The Maya room an indigenous people of Mexico and Central américa who have continuously inhabited ns lands comprising modern-day Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, y Chiapas in Mexico and southward with Guatemala, Belize, ns Salvador y Honduras. The designation Maya comes desde the ancient Yucatan ciudad of Mayapan, los last ciudad capital of ns Mayan Kingdom in los Post-Classic Period. The Maya human being refer to us by ethnicity and language binding such together Quiche in the del sur or Yucatec in the phia băc (though over there are countless others). Los `Mysterious Maya" have actually intrigued ns world since their `discovery" in ns 1840"s by hombre Lloyd Stephens y Frederick Catherwood but, in reality, much of ns culture is not that mysterious as soon as understood. Contradictory to extendido imagination, the Maya did not vanish and the descendants of los people that built ns great urban of Chichen Itza, Bonampak, Uxmal y Altun Ha still exist on los same lands your ancestors did y continue come practice, sometimes in uno modified form, the same rituals which would certainly be well-known by un native of ns land one thousand año ago.

Estás mirando: Panorama historico de la cultura maya

Maya Origins

The history of Mesoamerica is usually divided into particular periods which, bring away together, reveal los development of culture in los region and, for the purposes that this definition, ns emergence and cultivation of ns Maya Civilization.

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The antiquated Period: 7000-2000 base – throughout this hora a hunter-gatherer culture began come cultivate crops such as maize, beans and other vegetables y the domestication of pets (most notably dogs and turkeys) and plants ended up being widely practiced. The first villages of los region were created during this period which had sacred spots and temples devoted to various gods. The villages excavated thus far are dated desde 2000-1500 BCE.

The Olmec Period: 1500-200 base – This fue ~ is additionally known as ns Pre-Classic or Formative duration when los Olmecs, ns oldest society in Mesoamerica, thrived. Ns Olmecs worked out along los Gulf of Mexico y began building great cities the stone y brick. The famous Olmec heads strongly indicate highly advanced skill in sculpture y the very first indications of Shamanic spiritual practices date desde this period. The enormous size y scope the Olmec ruins gave birth to the idea that los land was once inhabited by giants. Though cuales one to know where los Olmecs come from, nor what happened to them, they lay the foundation because that all los future worlds in Mesoamerica.

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The Zapotec Period: 600 BCE-800 CE – In the region surrounding modern-day Oaxaca, ns cultural center now known as montaña Alban was started which came to be the capital of los Zapotec kingdom. Ns Zapotecs were clearly influenced by (or, perhaps, associated to) ns Olmecs and, with them, some of los most important cultural elements of the region to be disseminated such as writing, mathematics, astronomy y the breakthrough of ns calendar; every one of which los Maya would refine.

The Teotihuacan Period: 200-900 CE – throughout this era the great ciudad of Teotihuacan grew representar a small village to a metropolis of massive size and influence. Early on on, Teotihuacan was a rival of another ciudad called Cuicuilco but, when that comunidad was ruined by a volcano c. Cien CE, Teotihuacan became dominant in ns region. Archaeological evidence argues that Teotihuacan was vital religious centrar which was specialized to ns worship of uno Great mother Goddess and her consort los Plumed Serpent. Los Plumed Serpent god Kukulkan (also well-known as Gucamatz) was los most ancha deity among los Maya. Like plenty of of the cities which now lie in damage throughout the southern Americas, Teotihuacan was abandoned at some time around 900 CE.

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The ns Tajin Period: 250-900 CE – This duration is additionally known as los Classic duration in Mesoamerican and Mayan history. The name `El Tajin" refers to the great city complex on the Gulf the Mexico which has actually been known as one of los most essential sites in Mesoamerica. During this time the great ciudad de la ciudad centers rosa across the land and the Maya numbered in ns millions. Los very crucial ball game which became known as Poc-a-Toc was developed and more round courts have been discovered in y around the ciudad of los Tajin than anywhere else in ns region. Who, precisely, los people were that inhabited ns Tajin continues to be unknown together there were gastos generales fifty various ethnic groups represented in the city y dominance has been ascribed to both the Maya y the Totonac.


Temple of the Inscriptions, Palenque
Jan Harenburg (CC BY)

The standard Maya Period: 250-950 CE – This is the fue ~ which saw ns consolidation of strength in the great urban of ns Yucatec Maya such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal. Direct social influences might be seen, in part sites, from the Olmecs and the Zapotecs y the social values of Teotihuacan and El Tajin but, in others, un wholly nuevo culture appears to have arised (such as at Chichen Itza where, though there is ample evidence of cultural borrowing, over there is un significantly different style to the art y architecture). This period was ns height of ns Maya human being in which castle perfected mathematics, astronomy, architecture and the visual arts y also refined y perfected los calendar. Ns oldest date recorded in this fue ~ is on Stele veintinueve in the city of Tikal (292 CE) y the latest is desde an engraving on los Stele at los site the Tonina (909 CE). Los city-states of the Mayan human being stretched representar Piste in the phia băc all ns way abajo to contemporary Honduras.

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The Post-Classic Period: 950-1524 CE – in ~ this time los great urban of the Maya were abandoned. Hence far, alguna explanation for the mass exodus from the urban to outlying campo areas has actually been determined yet climate change y over population have to be strongly suggested among other possibilities. Ns Toltecs, a new tribe in the region, took gastos generales the vacant ciudad de la ciudad centers and re-populated them. At this time, Tula and Chichen-Itza ended up being dominant urban in ns region. Ns widely generalizado conception that los Maya were driven desde their urban by ns Spanish occupation is erroneous as los cities were currently vacant by the time of the Spanish invasion (in fact, the Spanish conquerors had alguno idea the natives they found in los region to be responsible for ns enormous complexes of los cities). Ns Quiche Maya were defeated at los Battle that Utatlan in mil quinientos veinticuatro CE y this day traditionally marks the end of los Maya Civilization.

Maya Culture

The elevation of ns Maya civilization in los Classic period produced ns incredible social advances because that which they room well known. Los Maya thought deeply in ns cyclical nature that life – naught was ever `born" and nothing ever before `died" – and this id inspired their check out of los gods y the cosmos. Their cosmological views, in turn, motivated their imaginative initiatives in architecture, mathematics, y astronomy. Beneath ns earth was ns dark realm of Xibalba (pronounced `shee-Bal-ba" and translated as `place the fear") desde whence grew the great Tree of Life which come up through ns earth and towered into los heavens, through thirteen levels, come reach ns paradise that Tamoanchan (`place of ns misty sky") where beautiful flowers bloomed. In Mayan belief, however, one did no die y go to un `heaven" or un `hell" but, rather, embarked on un journey towards Tamoanchan. This journey started in the dark and treacherous underworld the Xibalba where los Xibalbans that lived there were much more apt come trick and destroy a soul than help one.

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If one could navigate through Xibalba, however, one could then find los way come ascend through ns nine levels of the underworld, and the thirteen level of ns higher world, to paradise. Los only means in which a soul could by-pass Xibalba y travel instantly to Tamoanchan were through fatality in childbirth, as a sacrificial victim, in warfare, on los ball court, or by self-destruction (the Maya had a special goddess the suicide named Ixtab that was depicted as ns rotting corpse of ns woman hanging by uno noose in ns heavens). As soon as one reached Tamoanchan there to be eternal delight but, it have to be noted, this paradise to be not believed to actually exist in the sky but on los earth. Delaware ascending through ns thirteen levels, one did not live in the atmósfera but, rather, on uno mystical mountain trasero on los planet. It was therefore cyclical see that los Maya walk not believe there was anything wrong with humano sacrifice. Those world who were readily available to the gods did not `die" yet simply moved on. This cosmological id influenced every facet of the Mayan civilization and rituals were performed on regular basis in caves, evoking los darkness of Xibalba, y on hills or high temples which symbolized the heights that Tamoanchan.

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The good pyramids i m sorry characterize so countless Mayan sites are replicas of the great mountain of los gods well-known as the Witzob. The cyclical nature of humano existence is mirrored in the famous Maya calendar. The depictions of los many gods y goddesses every go towards their role in helping one through the cycles the life or hindering. Los great religious book of the Quiche Maya, the Popol-Vuh, tells precisely this historia of the cyclical nature the life through los tale of ns Hero pair Hunahpu and Xbalanque and their victory gastos generales the fuerza of chaos y darkness symbolized by ns Lords that Xibalba. The game the pair are renowned for playing, Poc-a-Toc, serves los same purpose.

Poc-a-Toc was the most generalizado game among the Maya y was far much more than `just ns game" as it symbolized the humanidad struggle and reflected los way ns Maya perceived existence. Dos opposing teams of seven men each would confront each other on a ball court and try to score a small rubber ball through a erigir hoop affixed to un wall (sometimes as high together twenty feet in los air, sometimes higher) while defending their own goal. What provides the juego even an ext impressive is that un player can not usar the hands or los feet, only the hips, shoulders, head y knees. Ns Spanish bishop Diego del Landa composed that watching los Maya jugar Poc-a-Toc was prefer watching lightning strikes, they moved so quickly. It has largo been thought that the losing team (or los captain of los losing team) would certainly be killed at the end of the match but recent advances in deciphering the Mayan glyphs, together con archaeological evidence, says it may have been los winning team or ns winning captain that was offered the el respeto of ns quick death y instant passage to paradise. The juego is assumed to have actually been symbolic, not just of los victory of the hero twins gastos generales darkness, but of los cyclical nature that life. Ns Mayanists Schele y Matthews claim, "Many modern myths have actually grown up about ns ballgame. The most popular says that los Maya sacrificed los winners so as to give a perfect gift to the gods. Over there is alguna evidence for this translate in any type of of ns ancient or historical sources" (210). This is not rather correct, however, as glyphs at plenty of ball courts, Chichen Itza come name just one, can be interpreted as showing los winning team or captain gift sacrificed and modern Mayan daykeepers in ~ both Altun Ha in Belize y Chichen Itza in los Yucatan punto to the hope that escape representar the darkness of Xibalba as los reason for ns winners gift executed. Whichever team was liked to die, y under what scenarios (since teams can not have actually been continually sacrificed as there is proof of `star" teams) the ball juego was deeply coherent to los Maya as more than just ns spectator sport. An ext information on los particulars of ns game, y the life of los ancient Maya in general, comes to iluminar as much more heiroglyphics room discovered y interpreted.


Maya Tikal Glyph
wikipedia user: Authenticmaya (CC BY-NC-SA)

Mayan Hieroglyphics

The modern trabaja difficulty in deciphering ns Mayan hieroglyphics stems from the action of los same male who, inadvertently, maintained so lot of what we understand of the Maya Civilization: Bishop Diego del Landa. Appointed to the Yucatan following los Spanish occupation of los north, Landa come in mil quinientos cuarenta y nueve CE y instantly set himself to ns task that routing fuera de heathenism desde among the Mayan converts to Christianity. The concept of uno god that dies y comes espalda to life was very familiar to los Maya desde their very own deity the Maize God and they seem come have embraced the story of Jesus Christ and his resurrection easily. Also so, Landa believed that there was un subversive faction farming among the Maya which to be seducing lock `back come idolatry" and, having actually failed to crush this viewed rebellion through the avenues of prayer y admonition, made decision another an ext direct method.

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On doce July 1562 CE, at the church at Mani, Landa burned gastos generales forty Mayan Codices (books) y over 20,000 images and stele. In his own words, “We found many books with these letters, y because they contained nothing the was free desde superstition and the devil"s trickery, we burned them, which ns Indians substantially lamented.” Landa walk further, however, y resorted to torture to extricate ns secrets of los subversives among los natives y bring them trasero to what he observed as the true course of ns church. His approaches were condemned by los other priests y he to be called espalda to Spain to describe his actions. Part of his defense to be his mil quinientos sesenta y seis CE occupational Relacion ese las cosas de Yucatan which has preserved lot of ns culture Landa tried come destroy y has verified to be a valuable heritage in understanding ancient Maya culture, religion, and language.

Only numero 3 books of ns Maya escaped ns conflagration at Mani: The la capital de españa Codex, The Dresden Codex, y The paris Codex (so named for ns cities where they were found countless years delaware they were brought trasero from ns Yucatan) i beg your pardon have noted scholars with a great deal of info on ns beliefs of los Maya and, especially, on your calendar. Ns codices were created by scribes who made mindful observations in astronomy (the Dresden Codex alone devotes six pages to accurately calculating los rising y positions the Venus) and their interpretations of the planets and the seasons exhibit un precision unequaled by other old civilizations. So important were your stories y books to the Maya that the Legend the Zamna and the Hennequen Plant describes the great goddess telling the prophet Zamna:

I want you to choose a group of families desde my kingdom, and three of los wisest Chilames, come carry los writings which phone call the story of ours people, and write what will occur in ns future. You will certainly reach uno place that me gustaría will show to you y you will certainly found uno city. Under its key temple you will guardia the writings y the future writings.

The city of Izamal was founded, according to this legend, by Zamna (associated with los deity Itzamna) of los Itzas who placed los sacred writings debajo the sede temple. Izamal came to be known as the most necessary pilgrimage site in ns Classical duration besides Chichen Itza. Shamans (known as Daykeepers) would translate the particularmente energy of the day or month for los people by consulting with ns gods presiding over the miscellaneous months of ns Maya calendar.



Maya Calendar

There are two calendars at work simultaneously in the Maya system: los Haab, or civil calendar of trescientos sesenta y cinco days in an 18 month period of veinte days each, and the Tzolkin, or spiritual calendar, of doscientos sesenta days separated into three groups of months of veinte days. The Haab y the Tzolkin work together, favor gears interlocking in ns machine, to develop what is known as the Calendar Round but cannot account for days farther in ns future than cincuenta y dos days. For longer calculations, the Maya devised what is well-known as the long Count Calendar y is this which has actually attracted for this reason much international attention in recent la edad regarding the fin of ns world on 21 December 2012 CE. As the largo count calendar begins once August tres mil ciento catorce BCE, it goes right into its next cycle (known as ns Baktun) on veintiuno December dos mil doce CE.

There is nothing in ns extant works of ns Maya to suggest any kind of cataclysm accompanies this transition. On diez May dos mil doce CE it was reported the Boston college archaeologist williams Saturno and Boston university student Maxwell Chamberlain, excavating at ns Maya site of Xultun in Guatemala, discovered ns 6x6 foot room dating to 800 CE which appears conclusively to have actually been uno calendar workshop for Mayan scribes. Los paintings and inscriptions on los walls of ns room admitir the Maya calendar extending well beyond los year dos mil doce CE y that future Baktuns were understood to already be underway in ns great cyclic dance of time. According to David Stuart, an expert on Maya hieroglyphs at los University that Texas at Austin, "Baktun catorce was walk to it is in coming, y Baktun quince and Baktun 16. ... Los Maya calendar is walk to store going, y keep going because that billions, trillions, octillions of la edad into the future."

The month of ns years of los Mayan calendars were governed over each by ns specific god and, as these gods were eternal, they assured the continuance of los energy that their particularmente month. As all of life was taken into consideration one eternal cycle, ns western concept of one `end of the world", so extendido in Christian ideology, would have actually been un completely foreign ide to a Maya scribe.

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Maya Today

In the modern age los Maya tho farm ns same lands y travel ns same rivers as their ancestors did representar the north in ns Yucatan abajo to Honduras. Ns claim that ns Maya somehow vanished, simply due to the fact that their cities were uncovered abandoned, is not only inaccurate but insulting to the gastos generales six million Maya who bring on the traditions of your ancestors. Though los region was Christianized in los 16th century CE conquest and inquisition, the old ways space still observed in un hybrid between European Catholicism y Mayan mysticism. Ns Daykeeper of un village tho interprets the energy of a day and rituals space still carry out in caves and on hills. Top top the island of Cozumel temples to los Virgin Mary and the goddess Ixchel are interchangeable and, often, one y the same. A great repartir has to be learned about los Maya since the days as soon as Stephens and Catherwood explored and documented the ancient damages but, for ns Maya life today, nothing of prestige has ever before been forgotten and the bicycle of life continues on.