Ancient Cities of the Maya

Mayan astronomers used observatories such as this one, located in the ancient city of Chichén Itzá. Windows at the top level, now partially destroyed, were strategically placed to observe the positions of sunrise and sunset and the motions of the Moo
Mayan astronomers used observatories such as this one, located in the ancient city of Chichén Itzá. Windows at the top level, now partially destroyed, were strategically placed to observe the positions of sunrise and sunset and the motions of the Moo | Source
Ancient buildings from the ruined city of Uxmal, Mexico. The short building at the front is the southern construction of the Nunnery Quadrangle and displays the characteristcs of Puuc mayan architecture of the period: the detailed stone mosaic work a
Ancient buildings from the ruined city of Uxmal, Mexico. The short building at the front is the southern construction of the Nunnery Quadrangle and displays the characteristcs of Puuc mayan architecture of the period: the detailed stone mosaic work a | Source
Ball courtyard in the ancient mayan city of Uxmal, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Ball courtyard in the ancient mayan city of Uxmal, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico | Source
The Temple of the Gods of the Wind stands over the beach in the Mayan walled city of Tulum.
The Temple of the Gods of the Wind stands over the beach in the Mayan walled city of Tulum. | Source
Tourists on the beach below the Mayan walled city of Tulum. Photo taken with an Olympus E-5 in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Tourists on the beach below the Mayan walled city of Tulum. Photo taken with an Olympus E-5 in Quintana Roo, Mexico. | Source
Altun Ha
Altun Ha | Source
Source
View of Alta Ha from the top of the ruins.
View of Alta Ha from the top of the ruins. | Source
El Castillo de Chichen Itza
El Castillo de Chichen Itza | Source
Templo de las Grandes Mesas Chichen Itza in the Yucatan, Mexico
Templo de las Grandes Mesas Chichen Itza in the Yucatan, Mexico | Source
Image of the God Chac Mool, located inside a chamber in the Temple of Kukulkán, at Chichén Itzá. Behind of the God, the statue of the Jade Eyed Jaguar. Picture taken without flash to avoid damage to the original colors of the structures.
Image of the God Chac Mool, located inside a chamber in the Temple of Kukulkán, at Chichén Itzá. Behind of the God, the statue of the Jade Eyed Jaguar. Picture taken without flash to avoid damage to the original colors of the structures. | Source

Who Are The Maya

The Mayan people lived in the north Central American region which includes the present-day nations of Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras and El Salvador, as well as the southern Mexican states of Chiapas, Tabasco, and the Yucatán peninsula states of Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatán. This historial civilization is a Mesoamerican civilization that dates back to 1000 B.C., although the area is believed to have been occupied before the 10th millenia by a people known as the Olmecs. This was an African civilization that came and went much earlier than the Mayans or Aztecs of Mexico.

It is not known when the first Mayan characteristics became well defined but by mid-Preclassic period (or mid-Formative, around 600 BC), some of the earliest Maya complexes had been constructed. It is known that during the later Classic period (c. 250 - 900) many cities were being constructed as well as recording of monumental inscriptions. Most of the monumental inscriptions took place in the southern lowland regions. It is believed that the magnificent cities of the Maya were abandoned due to drought and starvation, and possibly disease. It is a myth that the Mayans disappeared when their cities were abandoned. Many smaller civilizations and pockets of Mayan descendents still exist. Many of these groups continue to speak their original Mayan dialects to the present day.

More pyramids were built by the Maya than were built by the Egyptians. These pyramids are scattered all over Mexico and Central America. The cities of the Maya were great cultural center and their strengths were in writing and astronomy. They created calendars that reached backward and forward in time for more then (forward) seven thousand years. Some of these cities that are quite famous are the Tikal, Palenque, Copán and Kalakmul, as well as Dos Pilas, Uaxactun, Altun Ha, Bonampak. There are many other well known sites that have been found in the area.


Cities of the Maya

The famed cities of Tikal, Palenque, Copán and Kalakmul, as well as Dos Pilas, Uaxactun, Altun Ha, Bonampak were religious and cultural centers where great palaces were built for the Mayan kings. While the scribes were astronomers, much of the area around the cities was used for agriculture due to the large urban development that included large populations gathered nearby. The Maya were long distance traders who participated regularly with other civilizations in Mesoamerica sharing their writing skills, and other knowledge during the earlier formative years of the civilization. Some of their goods for trading were cacao, salt, and obsidian. Mayan cities were basically enormous royal households where the people lived around the palace.

The Mayan ball court is believed to have been part of the Mayan religion.
The Mayan ball court is believed to have been part of the Mayan religion. | Source
The Mayan calendar was a subject of discussion for years until the remainder of the calendar was found in 2012 a few weeks before December 21, 2012 which had been predicted to be the date of change and some claimed the end of the world.
The Mayan calendar was a subject of discussion for years until the remainder of the calendar was found in 2012 a few weeks before December 21, 2012 which had been predicted to be the date of change and some claimed the end of the world. | Source

Mayan Ball Court and Calendar

Every Mayan city had a ball court where ball players played an unusual game of ball that had religious significance. The Maya believed in human sacrifice which is well documented and depicted in their art.

Although the only Mayan calendar known about recently ended in December 2012 causing some consternation among believers that the would would end on that date, another Mayan calendar was recently found that continues forward for another 7000 years. Basically, the Mayan calendar measures epochs and December 2012 marks the end of the 13th epoch. Some researchers believe this means some spiritual or cultural change will appear but does not mean that the end of the world is near.

Maya site of Copán (Honduras). Pauahtun head, northeast corner of Structure 10L-11 of the Acropolis
Maya site of Copán (Honduras). Pauahtun head, northeast corner of Structure 10L-11 of the Acropolis | Source
César Valverde Vega in Copán, Honduras. Standing in front of Stela H. 1989
César Valverde Vega in Copán, Honduras. Standing in front of Stela H. 1989 | Source
National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Figure of a pelota player.
National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Figure of a pelota player. | Source
Uxmal, Mexico Juego de la pelota
Uxmal, Mexico Juego de la pelota | Source
A solid rubber ball used or similar to those used in the Mesoamerican ballgame, from Kaminaljuyu, 300 BC to 250 AD. With a manopla, or handstone, used to strike the ball, also from Kaminaljuyu, 900 BC to 250 AD. The ball is 3 inches (almost 8 cm) in
A solid rubber ball used or similar to those used in the Mesoamerican ballgame, from Kaminaljuyu, 300 BC to 250 AD. With a manopla, or handstone, used to strike the ball, also from Kaminaljuyu, 900 BC to 250 AD. The ball is 3 inches (almost 8 cm) in | Source
Ancient ball court of Monte Alban, in the Oaxaca region of Mexico.
Ancient ball court of Monte Alban, in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. | Source
Stela M and the Hieroglyphic Stairway on the archeological site of Copán, a mayan city.
Stela M and the Hieroglyphic Stairway on the archeological site of Copán, a mayan city. | Source
Dwarfs were important members of royal Maya courts. They are portrayed serving food, playing musical instruments, holding sacred objects for the ruler, and as diviners and scribes. Their elevated social roles were steeped in cosmology and religious m
Dwarfs were important members of royal Maya courts. They are portrayed serving food, playing musical instruments, holding sacred objects for the ruler, and as diviners and scribes. Their elevated social roles were steeped in cosmology and religious m | Source
Made up of smoothed sheets and coils of coarse orange clay, this "incensario," or incense burner, depicts one of the Palenque Triad of deities that art historians call "GIII." The Maya called him Kinich Ajaw, or "Sun Lord." He is shown here with his
Made up of smoothed sheets and coils of coarse orange clay, this "incensario," or incense burner, depicts one of the Palenque Triad of deities that art historians call "GIII." The Maya called him Kinich Ajaw, or "Sun Lord." He is shown here with his | Source
Large, lidded urns were unique to the K'iché Maya of southern Guatemala. The urns contained the remains of important individuals who either were placed in the urn as a tightly wrapped bundle or as a secondary burial of the remaining bones. A few have
Large, lidded urns were unique to the K'iché Maya of southern Guatemala. The urns contained the remains of important individuals who either were placed in the urn as a tightly wrapped bundle or as a secondary burial of the remaining bones. A few have | Source

Ancient Ruins of the Maya

show route and directions
A markercopan, honduras -
Copan, Honduras
[get directions]

Famous ancient city of the Maya.

B markerOaxacu, Mexico -
Oaxaca, Mexico
[get directions]

C markerUxmal -
Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico
[get directions]

D markerChichen Itza -
Chichen-itza, Yucatan, Mexico
[get directions]

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