But it has not been clear how widespread these canals were or whether the use of wetlands for farming was an important part of the Maya agricultural system. Their research suggests that the Maya built canals between wetlands to divert water and create new farmland, says Beach.
In mountainous areas, the Maya made terraces on the steep hillsides. Small fields are cut into a hillside and held with a retaining wall. These create a series of steps that reduce water runoff and erosion and can be planted with maize or other crops. Here too, the Maya used canals to irrigate the crops.
The Maya created arable land by using a ” slash-and-burn ” technique to clear the forests. They planted maize and secondary crops such as beans, squash, and tobacco.
Three types of Maya farming Raised field. The Mayas used this method to farm areas of land that otherwise would have been too wet to use. Terrace farming . This is where walls are built to make small flat fields one on top of the other. Slash and burn.
Two thousand years ago, the ancient Maya developed one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas. They developed a written language of hieroglyphs and invented the mathematical concept of zero. With their expertise in astronomy and mathematics, the Maya developed a complex and accurate calendar system.
Mysterious Decline of the Maya From the late eighth through the end of the ninth century, something unknown happened to shake the Maya civilization to its foundations. One by one, the Classic cities in the southern lowlands were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization in that region had collapsed.
Scholars have suggested a number of potential reasons for the downfall of Maya civilization in the southern lowlands, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, warfare, shifting trade routes and extended drought. It’s likely that a complex combination of factors was behind the collapse.
The Maya believed that when people died, they entered the Underworld through a cave or a cenote. When kings died, they followed the path linked to the cosmic movement of the sun and fell into the Underworld; but, because they possessed supernatural powers, they were reborn into the Sky World and became gods.
Maya astronomer -priests looked to the heavens for guidance. They used observatories, shadow-casting devices, and observations of the horizon to trace the complex motions of the sun, the stars and planets in order to observe, calculate and record this information in their chronicles, or “codices”.
During the pre-Columbian era, human sacrifice in Maya culture was the ritual offering of nourishment to the gods. Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering.
Luckily for the Aztecs, the chinampas were soft enough that it was possible to plant crops with nothing but pointed sticks. The three regions the ancient Maya lived in were very different from each other. Maya farmers used a method called slash and burn before they began planting crops.
Dating to 7000 years ago, these cobs are the earliest evidence of wild corn in the New World. Although their principal crop was corn, farmers also cultivated beans, squash, and fruit trees. Black beans and red beans contributed protein to the Maya diet. Numerous varieties of squash and pumpkin were grown.
Maya society was rigidly divided between nobles, commoners, serfs, and slaves. The noble class was complex and specialized. Noble status and the occupation in which a noble served were passed on through elite family lineages.
It appears to have been a truly integral part of their religious and social lives. The cacao bean and beverage were used in a variety of religious rituals honoring the Mayan gods — the liquid chocolate sometimes standing in for blood — and were considered “god food.” The Maya even had a god of cacao.