The Maya people are a civilization that began around 2000BC in Mesoamerica. The early Maya natives are recognized for their architecture, art, mathematics, astronomy and written language. They had strong religious beliefs and rituals. To this day large populations of Maya descendants continue to live in the Maya region of Mesoamerica where they continue to maintain many of those same traditions, beliefs and speak the native Maya language.
Maya CivalizationTimeline –
The Maya civilization lasted for centuries and to keep track of their length of existence their timeline was categorized into three distinct eras. There was the Pre-Classic Maya period (c 2000BC to 250 AD), the Classic Maya period (c AD 250 to 900) and the Post Classic Maya period (AD 900 to 1500) or until it collapsed.
Maya architecture –
It was the Classic period that scholars say the Maya civilization reached it’s peak for large scale construction, However above is a beautiful stepped pyramid from pre-classic period. El Castillo has four faces and each face contains 91 steps. All toghther with the steps on top this pyramid it has 365 steps which is the number of days in a year. Therefore, this pyramid is believed to have been built for astronomical purposes. In 2006, a woman fell to her death and people are no longer allowed to walk the steps of El Castillo one of the Maya civilizations most magnificent pyramids. Here’s a link to some more of their amazing structures http://www.touropia.com/ancient-mayan-temples/
The Maya artists over the centuries really captured the essence of being a Maya Native through their 1000’s of sculptures large and small found at various archaelogical sites. Above is a beautiful ceramic figure of an ancient Maya woman. The sculpture was made from a mold and then decorated by hand. It was found just off the Yucatan Peninsula on a small Island called Jaina.Jaina was a Maya burial site. It is estimated there are over 20,000 graves there. Each grave containing human remains had one or more ceramic figurines like the one above on their chest or in their hands along with other objects. I really like this little figurine, because of it’s intricate details and beautiful colors. I wonder what the little emulate in her hand is and what it is for?
Above is a beautiful example of Maya ceramics. The characters are walking around with bloody heads in hand and some sort of weapon in the other. I find the imaging very disturbing. However, this vase depicts a clear example of the Maya peoples way of life. They were known to be very savage and practice sacrificial ceremonies. The artist who painted this vase used wonderful detail and used some absolutely magnificent colors. Look closely to the top and there are multiple pseudoglyhs. Pseudoglyphs are symbols that usually represent some sort of meaning. I’m not sure what kind of meaning these are trying to represent, but I imagine if it has any relation to what is depicted it is most likely meaning something gruesome in nature.
The Maya civilization was a very successful civilization with a population in the millions. Why their society collapsed is still being talked about to this day. Some believe it was drought, wide-spread disease, over population or that there was some sort of revolt by the underclass. Whatever the reason may be for the decline in their society the beautiful art, architecture, sculptures and mystery they’ve left behind will forever captivate the world.