Friday, October 24, 2008

Indigenous people of the Yucatan peninsula: the Maya

Mosaico Maya en Copán
Originally uploaded by El Soñador
The Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican civilization, says Wikipedia. It is noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as its spectacular art, monumental architecture, and sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems.

They reached an apogee of development during the Classic period (c. 250 CE to 900 CE), and continued until the arrival of the Spanish. At its peak, it was one of the most densely populated and culturally dynamic societies in the world.

Advances such as writing, epigraphy, and the calendar did not originate with the Maya; however, their civilization fully developed them.

Their strengths were in astronomy, writing, math, architecture, calendar development and agriculture.

The Maya practiced human sacrifice. In some Maya rituals people were killed by having their arms and legs held while a priest cut the person's chest open and tore out his heart as an offering. This is depicted on ancient objects such as pictorial texts, known as codices (singular: codex). It is believed that children were often offered as sacrificial victims because they were believed to be pure.

The largest Mayan sites:
Chichen Itza

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