What is the Mayan culture

Maya

The Maya are a people who live in Central America. Today most of the Maya are farmers and live on the Yucat√°n Peninsula. Between 300 AD and 900 AD, the Maya were a strong and influential people. They ruled an area about the size of Germany. It included the south of Mexico, as well as the countries of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The early Maya are called high culture. This means that they had a very developed culture for the time: They built large cities, developed their own script, and observed the orbits of planets, for example.

The history of the Maya

Researchers have found that the first Maya lived in small villages as early as 800 BC and grew corn, beans and pumpkins. As the Mayan population grew, the first cities appeared. These were ruled by a kind of king. Many Mayan cities had government palaces, places for the popular hip ball game and large pyramids. At the top of the pyramids, the Maya built temples where they worshiped and sacrificed their gods. The Maya were a combative people. Enemies captured during wars were often forced to work as slaves afterwards, or they were sometimes even sacrificed to the gods. The influential Mayan era ended around the year 900 AD. It was then that the Maya suddenly left their cities. To this day nobody knows exactly why. Some scientists believe that there was a great drought at that time and many people starved to death.

Maya culture

The Maya developed a complex script that consists of around 800 different symbols. The characters were carved into buildings or stones and tell, for example, about kings and their deeds. The Maya also made small folded books, so-called codices, from wood and bark. In the codices they also described their gods, religious festivals or their knowledge of different planets, among other things. The Maya not only knew the sun and the moon, they also observed the course of Venus and the Milky Way, among other things. They wrote down their observations in tables and were able to calculate solar eclipses in advance, for example. The Maya also developed their own calendar system from their records of the course of the sun and other planets.

How do the Maya live today

Although the Mayan wedding dates back hundreds of years, many of their cities, temples and palace complexes are still preserved and are visited by many tourists every year. Scientists assume that many Mayan ruins are still hidden in the primeval forests of Central America, which have not yet been discovered. In contrast to many other peoples, the Maya people are not extinct. About two million Mayan descendants still live in Central America. They are trying to preserve their old language and parts of their old culture. In some Mayan schools, teaching is therefore bilingual: Spanish and the Mayan language. The old number system and the complicated picture writing are still taught today.

Status: 23.03.2010, 14:20