An enormous drought that swept across Mexico around 1,000 years ago triggered the demise of one of the world’s greatest ancient civilisations. Scientists studying the climate at the time of the ancient Maya found that rainfall fell by up to 70 per cent at the time the region’s city states were abandoned.
The Itza Maya and other lowland groups in the Petén Basin were first contacted by Hernán Cortés in 1525, but remained independent and hostile to the encroaching Spanish until 1697, when a concerted Spanish assault led by Martín de Urzúa y Arizmendi finally defeated the last independent Maya kingdom.
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 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).
The Maya had a system of serfdom and slavery . Serfs typically worked lands that belonged to the ruler or local town leader. There was an active slave trade in the Maya region, and commoners and elites were both permitted to own slaves .
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.
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 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.
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).
A team of researchers that began their work with a study of lake sediments in Guatemala has found that Bahlam Jol is the Mayan name of ruins that archaeologists call Witzna in northern Guatemala, and they concluded that the fire was devastating.
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.
Descendants of the Maya still live in Central America in modern-day Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and parts of Mexico. The majority of them live in Guatemala, which is home to Tikal National Park, the site of the ruins of the ancient city of Tikal. Roughly 40 percent of Guatemalans are of Mayan descent.
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
The ancient Maya civilization was formed by members of this group, and today’s Maya are generally descended from people who lived within that historical civilization. Today they inhabit southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras.