The Mayan Civilization


The Mayan empire lasted from 1000 B.C. to A.D. 900. It reached it’s height at around A.D. 300. It was located in the tropical rain forests pf Guatemala and western Honduras. The terrain was rough and rocky jungles and mountain slopes.


The Mayans were a polytheistic culture. They believed in human and animal sacrifices. The sacrifices were performed be priests on top of temples to the gods. They loved jungle cats and thought that the world was created on August 11, 3114 B.C. (I bet it started as a joke). They also built some ceremonial cities. They also thought that you looked good if your head kept slanting along with your nose and you were cross eyed with sharp teeth (they would file them into points). As you can see people’s taste has changed a lot over time.


The Mayan empire was made up of around 200 city states (a political power consisting of an urban city surrounded by farmland) which added up to about 12-16 million total people at its height. Different cities fought each other for prisoners to sacrifice.

The empire had a warrior king. There were 2 different classes- the nobles (upper class) and the peasants (lower class). They also had some other “levels/importance” of people like king, priests, and some others.


The Mayans were such successful architects that they built 20 story buildings. They were made out of bricks and they used stone tools not metal ones. They built ziggurat like pyramids (different stories that got smaller as you went up a floor) that had temples on the top of them for human and animal sacrifice. They also built public squares/plazas and large palaces.


The Mayans were a very advanced civilization. They made 2 calendars- a solar calendar used for harvesting and planting crops with 365 days, and a religious calendar for marking ceremonies that had 260 days. They also could predict lunar eclipses. Their centuries had 52 years. They also had the ability to use the wheel but the rugged terrain and the wheel didn’t work so well together. Also they had a very advanced knowledge of astronomy. Their written language was a hieroglyphic style of writing.

Now you hopefully know a little bit more about the Mayan civilization than you did before.