A Brief History Of The Mayan Civilization

2938 Words Apr 23rd, 2015 12 Pages

Michael Costa
History 157: History of Latin America
May 8, 2015

Mayan civilization peaked too early to impress the Spanish in the manner of the Inca and Aztec empires. The great Mayan ceremonial centers visited by modern tourists were all in ruin when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. In fact, the highpoint of Mayan imperial organization was almost a thousand years earlier. Mayan city-states were located in high mountains, in densely forested tropical lowlands, and on the arid Yucatán peninsula. Like the Mexicas (and other indigenous people of central Mexico), the Maya built stone pyramids, but they did not dedicate any to human sacrifice. Mayan cities contained ball courts where opposing teams tried to get a rubber ball through a stone hoop. The game was not a sport, but a ritual, and often a matter of life and death. Mayan writing, composed of symbols called glyphs, was the most elaborate created by any indigenous civilization. In an attempt to eradicate Mayan indigenous religious belief, the Spanish conquistadors burned large collections of Mayan writings. The Mayan language lives on today, but its linguistic fragmentation mirrors the political fragmentation of the city-states. Modern Mayan is a family of languages, rather than a single language. Quiché and Mam, two modern Mayan languages, are no more alike than English and German or French and Italian.
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