The Mayans

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By Chandler Anschutz

Standard to be covered by this project:
Describe the diverse characteristics of early American Civilizations and societies in North, Central, and South America by comparing and contrasting the major aspects (government, religion, interactions with the environment, economy, and social life) of American Indian civilizations and societies such as the Maya, Aztec, Inca, Pueblo, and/or Eastern Woodland peoples. [pic]

Rise and Fall of the Mayans

The Maya people lived from 11,000 B.C. to almost 1500 A.D. At 11,000 B.C. the first hunter-gatherers settle into the Maya Highlands. According to Mayans Long Count Calendar the creation of the world takes place in 3114-3113 B.C. In the year 2000 B.C. the Olmec civilization is on the rise, the root of many traditions in the Mayan Culture. 700 B.C. Maya people form a written language of a form of hieroglyphics. The Mayan script is logosyllabic combining about 550 logograms (which represent whole words) and 150 syllabograms (which represent syllables). There were also about 100 glyphs representing place names and the names of gods. Only about 300 of these glyphs were commonly used. In 300 B.C. the Mayans adopted the idea of a hierarchical society ruled by nobles and kings. The city of Teotihuacán is founded in 100 B.C. and becomes the center of culture, religion and trading in Mesoamerican for centuries. The Mayan people learned to farm the harsh tropical land. As populations grew, they adopted more intensive methods of cultivation including composting, terracing, and irrigation. They filled in swamps to creating fields and used silt and muck from bottomlands to fertilize enclosed gardens. Artificial ponds gave a place to hold fish, and corrals held deer and other game flushed from the forest. Their settlements grew into large city-states and with the city-states came large palaces and temples. They were very artistic; they made ceramics, murals, and sculptures. They understood the concept of zero and formed a very extensive hieroglyphic form of writing. Their year had 365 days to it and they even had made the leap year correction. They predicted solar eclipses, watched the stars, and even had their temples built so that at a certain time of year they’d face the sunrise or sunset exactly. The Mayans were led by Maya Kings, who got their power from the gods. They were both priests, interpreting religion and as leaders in times of peace and war. These kings would perform public rituals giving metaphysical meaning to the movement of the heavens, changing calendars, and even royal succession. Besides the spiritual rituals the Maya cities functioned just as a normal city would trading, fighting, making alliances, and gaining/losing land. Waka, a Maya city had become a large center of trade. Goods like jade, obsidian, and pyrite even made it to the Mayans. Waka also had a tributary to the San Pedro, it was sheltered and had room to lodge large canoes. The Mayans also invented a type of flak jacket. It was a cotton vest, stuffed with rock salt. A guy by the name of Fire is Born led an army toward Waka in means to gain reinforcements. Fire is Born was sent to conquer Tikal. With his new found reinforcements from Waka it took him a week to reach Tikal and conquer them. Fire is Born became the cities new overlord. Following Fire is Born’s take over of Tikal, Tikal itself started to expand. In the year 800 A.D. Cancun was overrun by invaders. These invaders took 31 royal hostages into the court yard, probably members of the royal family, and systematically decapitated every one of them. The king of Cancun was not spared, nor was his wife or children. The invaders took none of the riches or valuable items of the city, instead they defaced all of the monuments and toppled them face down. Almost every city was met by its end in this way or simply faded out of existence. Nobles abandoned...
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