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The Maya Essay

1805 words - 8 pages

After the disappearance of the Olmec in 100 BCE many Mesoamerican complex societies arose and continued to carry on many of the things of the Olmec culture. The ceremonial centers that were now being established brought about large populations of residents to the area. Trade networks linked the new areas and extended across Mesoamerica. They developed similar to those in the eastern hemisphere.
The earliest heirs to the Olmec were the Maya people. The Maya can be analyzed in terms of their culture. This civilization came about in Mesoamerica around 250 AD with a great influence coming from that of the Olmec. The first 650 years of the Maya civilization’s existence was known as the Classic Period. They created a remarkable society of more than 40 cities in the region which is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, and northern Belize. The cities contained mostly ceremonial centers and majority of the Maya lived a rural agricultural life around the cities. The Maya civilization has come to be known as a “lost” civilization.
The Maya utilized a system of agriculture with their primary crop being maize (corn). Also growing other crops such as beans and squash. The farmers of this area built irrigation systems, dug canals to carry water, and also built terraces so that they would be capable of farming on hillsides. Cacao was consumed by mostly nobles and was used as money for the Maya. They also built elaborate temples, pyramids, and stone buildings, usually limestone. The Maya constructed a system of writing which consisted of hieroglyphs and an advanced calendar as well. They made books from the bark of fig trees which were called codices. The Olmec civilization had a great influence on much of the Maya’s culture.
Maya cultural development is divided into three parts: Pre-classic, Classic, and Post-classic. The Classic period is the birth of the Maya civilization. This is the rise of the Maya society and began around 250 CE. This period lasted until about 900 CE. The population at this time was anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 with Tikal being the primary city. The Post-classic period last from about 900 CE to 1519 CE. After the depopulation of the lowland cities the highland cities continued to flourish.
Maya writing was an expansion on the Olmec tradition of writing in inscriptions. They created the most beautiful and complex system of writing than all of the other early American systems. It is a system of hieroglyphs and syllabic symbols. Scholars began to try and understand the script in the 1960’s. Much of Maya writing is still around today. The inscriptions are seen on temples and monuments. The most common place for Maya writing were the books that they created out of bark paper and lime to make it white. They bound each book with deer hide. Only four books containing Maya writing that deal with astronomical and calendric matters. Popol Vuh, the Maya Bible is one of the surviving books. Like other Mesoamerican people, the Maya used a number...

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