Most famously, the Maya of the southern lowland region reached their peak during the Classic Period of Maya civilization (A.D. 250 to 900), and built the great stone cities and monuments that have fascinated explorers and scholars of the region.
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.
They were gifted designers and architects who built grand structures including royal residences, galactic observatories, sanctuary pyramids, straight roads, and canals. The Maya also invented elastic a long time before the process of vulcanization, or rubber-making, was discovered.
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.
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 .
Genetic/genomic expressions do not change in such a brief period of time, therefore, all evidence suggest that the short stature of the Maya is due to a combination of environmental and epigenetic factors.
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 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).
The Calendar Round is still in use by many groups in the Guatemalan highlands. A different calendar was used to track longer periods of time and for the inscription of calendar dates (i.e., identifying when one event occurred in relation to others). This is the Long Count.
The Maya had a numeric system, games, aqueducts, and even a calendar to tell time . The calendar that the Maya used looks very different in comparison to the 12 month Gregorian Calendar that we use. The Mayan Calendar consists of three dating systems, which make interpreting the date more unique than our dating system.
Although the Mayan people never entirely disappeared—their descendants still live across Central America—dozens of core urban areas in the lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula, such as Tikal, went from bustling cities to abandoned ruins over the course of roughly a hundred years.
The Yucatec Maya believed that there were different routes after death . The Maya believe that the soul is bound to the body at birth. Only death or sickness can part the body and soul, with death being the permanent parting. To them, there is an afterlife that the soul reaches after death .
The Maya today number about six million people, making them the largest single block of indigenous peoples north of Peru. Some of the largest Maya groups are found in Mexico, the most important of these being the Yucatecs (300,000), the Tzotzil (120,000) and the Tzeltal (80,000).