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.
Farming was really important to the Mayas . Most people grew their own crops in small fields. This meant they were able to create very detailed calendars which told them what time of year to plant crops and when they should harvest them.
Mayan Farming : Terrace Farming In mountainous areas, the Maya made terraces on the steep hillsides. These terraces make the most productive use of mountainous or hilly land. Here too, the Maya used canals to irrigate the crops.
In the mountainous highlands, they used step farming, so that each step would be flat and able to be irrigated to better grow and harvest crops . In the swampy lowlands, the Maya built raised earth platforms, surrounded by canals, on which they could grow crops .
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”.
The most important food that the Maya ate was maize, which is a vegetable like corn. They made all types of food from maize including tortillas, porridge, and even drinks. Other staple crops included beans, squash, and chilies. For meat the Maya ate fish, deer, ducks, and turkey.
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 Mayans and the Aztecs believed (and perhaps some people still do) that chocolate was a gift from the gods. The Aztecs in particular revered the drink – they gave it to victorious warriors after battle, would use it during religious rituals, and even used cacao beans as currency.
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.
The most common crops were maize (centli, famously used to make tortillas but also tamales and gruel), amaranth (a grain), sage, beans (etl), squash , and chile peppers .
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.
Meat and fish were typically cooked in stews along with various vegetables and peppers. Fish was either salted and dried or roasted over an open fire. Fruits eaten included guava, papaya, avocado, custard apple, and sweetsop. A frothy chocolate drink and honey were also popular desserts.
According to a new study, the Maya kept animals such as jaguars and dogs in their homes, but whether they were pets, eaten as food or used for sacrifices — or all three, remains unknown. The large cat in the study was found in a pyramid and may have been a jaguar . It likely lived off a corn-based diet.
Crops cultivated across the Inca Empire included maize , coca, beans, grains, potatoes , sweet potatoes , ulluco, oca, mashwa, pepper, tomatoes, peanuts, cashews, squash, cucumber, quinoa , gourd, cotton, talwi, carob, chirimoya, lúcuma, guayabo, and avocado.