The first temples of the Maya arose more than 2,000 years ago. Their word for these stone pyramids was the same as their word for mountain, and the massive stepped temples at times reached more than 200 feet high.
Like many Maya buildings, Maya temples were built of stone, with platforms on the top where wooden and thatch structures could be built . Temples tended to be pyramids, with steep stone steps leading to the top, where important ceremonies and sacrifices took place.
The Maya pyramids are structures built in the jungles of Central America by the Maya civilization between 200 and 900 AD .
Civilizations like the Olmec, Maya , Aztec and Inca all built pyramids to house their deities, as well as to bury their kings. In many of their great city-states, temple -pyramids formed the center of public life and were the site of holy rituals, including human sacrifice.
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.
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 Pyramid of Djoser
Pyramids were used not only as temples and focal points for Maya religious practices where offerings were made to the gods but also as gigantic tombs for deceased rulers, their partners, sacrificial victims, and precious goods.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula
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.
Maya stelae were worked with stone chisels and probably with wooden mallets. Hammerstones were fashioned from flint and basalt and were used for shaping the softer rocks used to make stelae, while fine detail was completed with smaller chisels.
Top limestone quarries used were Palenque and Tikal. Though limestone was the most important material, they still collected sandstone from Quiriguá and volcanic tuff from Copan. The Mayan people had taken advantage of mortar on most structural projects.
“The Maya did not use the wheel nor draft animals, so they transported the building materials using person-power from the quarries to the building site,” Tulane Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology Judith Maxwell said of the Maya method for transporting heavy materials. Large building blocks were rolled on logs.