The Mayan People
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Lost World of the Maya (Full Episode) - National Geographic
The first Maya settlements started about BC. This is called the "early pre-classic period" in Mayan history'. Around this time they began to settle down. They started to farm animals and make pottery and small clay figures. Later they started to make these mounds into step pyramids. There were other people around at the time, especially in the north.
We don't know exactly where the borders of the Maya civilization were. Many of the most important early examples of writing and buildings appeared in north, so these cultures probably affected the Maya civilization. From about to , the Maya civilization built many monuments and cities, and made many important carvings. The "southern lowlands" were an important place at the time. The Maya civilization made many discoveries about art and thinking there. Like Ancient Greece , their civilization was made up of numerous cities , which all worked in different ways. People gathered around these cities to farm.
In general, we know more about where the cities were in the south than we do in the north. Some northern cities we do know about were Oxkintok , Chunchucmil , and Uxmal. Their most famous monuments are the pyramids they built as part of their religious centers, and the palaces. The Maya also made carved stone slabs which they called tetun , or "tree-stones". These slabs show rulers along with hieroglyphic writing describing their family , military victories, and other things that they did well.
The Maya had trade routes that ran over long distances. They traded with many other Mesoamerican cultures, such as Teotihuacan , the Zapotec, and other groups in central and gulf-coast Mexico. They also traded with groups that were farther away. For example, people who study the Maya civilization found gold from Panama in the Sacred well at Chichen Itza. Some important things they traded were cacao , salt , sea shells , jade and obsidian. Between AD and AD, the cities in the southern lowlands had more and more problems until all the people left. The Maya civilization there stopped making big monuments and carvings. They have many different ideas - some people think there was a big environmental disaster, or a disease affected a lot of people, or there were just too many people for the amount of food they could grow.
In the north, the Maya civilization kept going. Other cultures started mixing with Mayan culture much more. The Itza Maya, Ko'woj , and Yalain groups around what is now Guatamela were still around, but there were not very many of them. By , they had built themselves back up again and started to build cities. The Ko'woj had their capital at Zacpeten. However, by the end of the Classic Period, around A. Exactly why any of this transpired, though, is a mystery. 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. Instead, cities in the northern lowlands region, such as Chichen Itza and later Mayapan both located in present-day Yucatan, Mexico , rose to prominence.
The Spanish conquistadores arrived in the early s and the last independent Mayan city, Nojpeten in present-day Guatemala , fell to Spanish troops in The ancient cities were largely forgotten until the 19th century, when their ruins started to be uncovered by explorers and archeologists. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. Live TV.