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Chapter 16 Section 2 Reading Study Guide Maya Kings And Cities

Topics: Maya civilization / Pages: 4 (722 words) / Published: Apr 11th, 2015
wh10a-RSG-0416_P3 11/13/2003 3:36 PM Page 149

Name ______________________________________________________________

CHAPTER 16 Section 2 (pages 446–451)

Maya Kings and Cities
In the last section, you read about societies in North
In this section, you will read about the Maya civilization in
Mexico and Central America.

Date ______________________

Tikal Maya city in present-day
glyph Picture symbol used as part of a writing system codex Book with bark-paper pages; only three of these ancient Maya books have survived
Popul Vuh Book containing a Maya story of creation

Use the chart below to take notes on Maya civilization.



Religious and trade centers
Large populations
Linked by trade

Social Classes


© McDougal Littell Inc. All rights reserved.



Maya Create City-States (pages 446–447)

Who were the Maya?
A great civilization arose in what is today southern
Mexico and northern Central America. This was the
Maya civilization. It appeared around A.D. 250.
Between then and 900, the Maya built large cities such as Tikal and Copán. Each city was independent and ruled by a god-king. Each city was a religious center as well as a trade center for the area around it.
These cities were large. Tens of thousands of people lived in these cities. The cities were full of palaces, temples, and pyramids. Archaeologists have found at least 50 Maya cities.

Trade linked these cities. Among the trade goods were salt, flint, feathers, shells, cotton cloth, and ornaments made of jade. Cacao beans, which are used to make chocolate, were sometimes used as money.
Maize, beans, and squash were the main foods.
Maya society was divided into social classes.
The best warriors and priests were at the top. The merchants and craft workers were at the next level.
Peasant farmers—the majority of the people— were at the bottom.
1. What is known about Maya cities?



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Religion Shapes Maya Life

2. How does Maya writing reflect Maya culture?

(pages 447–448)

How did religion shape Maya life?


Mysterious Maya Decline
(page 449)

Why did the civilization decline?
In the late 800s, the Maya civilization began to decline. Historians do not know why. One explanation may be that warfare between the different city-states disrupted Maya society. The wars interrupted trade and drove many people out of the cities into the jungle. Another may be that the soil became less productive due to intensive farming over a long time. Whatever the cause, the Maya became a less powerful people. They continued to live in the area, but their cities were no longer the busy trade and religious centers they had been.
3. Name two reasons that may explain the Maya civilization’s decline.

© McDougal Littell Inc. All rights reserved.

The Maya religion was at the center of their society. There were many gods, including one for each day. The actions of the day’s god could be predicted, they thought, by following a calendar. The
Maya sometimes cut themselves to offer their blood to the gods in sacrifice. Sometimes they killed enemies and sacrificed them.
The Maya religion led to the development of mathematics, calendars, and astronomy. Maya math included the idea of zero. They had two calendars. One calendar was religious, and it had 13
20-day months. The other calendar was based on the sun. It had 18 months consisting of 20 days each. The Maya linked the two together to identify days that would bring good fortune.
Maya astronomy was very accurate. They observed the sun, moon, and stars to make their calendars as accurate as possible. They calculated the time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun almost perfectly.
The Maya also developed the most advanced writing system in the ancient Americas. Maya writing was made up of about 800 symbols, or glyphs.
They used their writing system to record important historical events. They carved in stone or recorded events in a bark-paper book known as a codex.
Three of these ancient books still survive. A famous
Maya book called the Popul Vuh records a Maya story of the creation of the world.

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