Essay The Maya Civilization

Decent Essays
The Maya Civilization

The ancient Maya once occupied a vast geographic area in Central America. Their civilization inhabited an area that encompasses Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and parts of the states of Chiapas and Tabasco, as well as Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. "From the third to the ninth century, Maya civilization produced awe-inspiring temples and pyramids, highly accurate calendars, mathematics and hieroglyphics, and a complex social and political order" ("Collapse..." 1). Urban centers were important to the Maya during the Classic period; they offered the Mayans a central place to practice religion. The Mayan culture can be traced back to 1500 BC, entering the Classic period about 300 AD and
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The priestly class lived in the cities, while the general population lived away in small farming villages. The priests would carry out daily religious duties, particularly sacrifices, and the peasants would gather periodically for religious ceremonies and festivals. They built the ceremonial centers in a specific design for religious practices. They constructed tall pyramid temples, warren-like single story palaces, and a ball court that was surrounded by a broad central plaza. The architectural features of the Mayan pyramids include towering roofs, corbel vaults, and elaborate embellishment with stucco reliefs (Palfrey 2). It is amazing to imagine the detail that the Mayans were able to create in their architecture with only primitive tools. For the Mayans, science and religion were linked. Time was extremely important and their agriculture and religious ceremonies required a system that could record time. That need for structure is probably the reason that the Mayans developed such an amazingly accurate calendar. They also developed a complex style of hieroglyphic writing that we have not fully deciphered. Through their knowledge of astronomy and mathematics they calculated the lunar cycle, predicted eclipses, and formulated a unique calendar system was very accurate. Their calendar was only one day off every 6000 years. That makes it more accurate than our calendar today (Hooker 6). Two fundamental
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