The Maya have lived in Central America for many centuries. They are one of the many Precolumbian native peoples of Mesoamerica . In the past and today they occupy Guatemala, adjacent portions of Chiapas and Tabasco, the whole of the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and the western edges of Honduras and Salvador.
The Maya refer to both a modern-day people who can be found all over the world as well as their ancestors who built an ancient civilization that stretched throughout much of Central America, one that reached its peak during the first millennium A.D.
Unlike other scattered indigenous populations of Mesoamerica, the Maya were centered in one geographical block covering all of the Yucatan Peninsula and modern-day Guatemala ; Belize and parts of the Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas and the western part of Honduras and El Salvador .
The Maya are probably the best-known of the classical civilizations of Mesoamerica. Originating in the Yucatán around 2600 B.C., they rose to prominence around A.D. 250 in present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, northern Belize and western Honduras.
After assembling a record-setting 154 radiocarbon dates, the researchers have been able to develop a highly precise chronology that illuminates the patterns that led up to the two collapses that the Maya civilization experienced: the Preclassic collapse, in the second century A.D., and the more well-known Classic
Including Maya and other indigenous Latin Americans in the broader Latino ethnicity complies with the concept (both popular and official) that Latino refers to people of Latin American or Hispanic heritage, thus assumed to share certain historical experiences and points of culture regardless of race, ethnicity or
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. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
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.
Instead, like many early civilizations, they were thought to mostly barter, trading items such as tobacco, maize, and clothing.
The designation Maya comes from the ancient Yucatan city of Mayapan, the last capital of a Mayan Kingdom in the Post-Classic Period. The Maya people refer to themselves by ethnicity and language bonds such as Quiche in the south or Yucatec in the north (though there are many others).
Families lived in great cities like Yax Mutal and Palenque, and also in surrounding farmland. Adults worked as farmers, warriors, hunters, builders, teachers and many other things. Children from noble families could learn maths, science, writing and astronomy, but poorer children were only taught their parents’ jobs.
Since Mayan culture formed, dissolved and reformed over many hundreds of years, scholars divide the years into three main time periods: Pre-Classic (2000 B.C. to A.D. 250), Classic (A.D. 250 to 900) and Post-Classic (900 to 1519).