Information on the Mayans

The Mayans for KS1 and KS2 children
December 4, 2015 – 01:08 pm
Tabasco in the Age of Maya

Classical Mayan civilisation is dated to between the years 200-900 AD. During this period as many as 40 great city states developed, with most ranging in population from 5, 000 to 50, 000 people. Some authorities suggest that Tikal may have had a population of up to 100, 000 people by 800 AD. These urban centres were supported by rural outlying areas of farmers and smaller settlements. Most city states had their own kings but some may have been subject to the rule of more powerful neighbours. Evidence of some decline, for example the abandonment of cities in certain regions, seems to have begun around 800AD.

In the lowland areas crops such as maize, cacao, beans, avocado, squash and chilli were grown. Dogs were kept for meat and animals such as turkeys, rabbits, deer and agouti were hunted for food. Highland areas provided stones such as obsidian and jade and ores such as hematite. Quetzal feathers were highly prized for headdresses. Clothing was made from woven cotton or sisal.

Mayan cities are characterised by a range of monumental architecture including temples, stepped pyramids, ball courts, observatories and palace complexes. Large plazas, and reservoirs were also built. These are decorated with sculptures and hieroglyphs detailing aspects of warfare, dynastic succession and religious ritual. A high degree of artistry was achieved and this is evident also in pottery, wall paintings, jade carvings and feathered headdresses.

The Mayan calendar had three aspects: a civil calendar of 365 days; a religious calendar of 260 days and a long-count calendar divided into cycles called baktuns. The civil and religious calendar worked together in 52 year cycles. The baktun was a cycle of 400 years. Mayan mathematics was also highly advanced and the use of zero meant that lengthy and complex calculations could be accurately completed.

Mayan religion influenced most areas of life. Mayans believed that life was a cycle and that people progressed through various stages before reaching ‘the place of misty sky.’ Their gods were bloodthirsty and human sacrifice was required to appease them. The King was believed to be a representative of the gods. The famous Mayan ball game was also a religious ritual. Months were dedicated to gods and their portraits adorned the faces of buildings.

End of the World 2012 EBook: The Latest Up-To-Date Information on the Mayan Calendar, the Alignment with the Galactic Center, and the December 21 2012 Mayan Prophecies - Will the World End in 2012?
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  • Maya 2012: The year of destruction or rebirth?
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