The Mayan civilization was a densely populated and highly advanced civilization that thrived in Mesoamerica from the second century B.C.E., until the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th Century B.C.E. They had their base in the Yucatan and spread over present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador, and northern Belize.
The Mayan civilization is remarkable because of their fully developed written language, advanced architecture, mathematical and astronomical systems, and cultural dynamism that made them one of the most advanced societies of the world during those times.
There are many theories regarding how the Mayans initially established themselves. The problem stems from the fact that there are little historical records of this period, and most of what has passed down the ages remains myths and folklores.
One of the most popular theories is that nomadic hunter-gatherers, the ancestors of the Mayans crossed the Bering Strait at least 20,000 years ago. There exists evidence of settlements like corn cultivation, basic pottery and stone tools in Mexico during the period 5000-1500 BC that substantiate this claim.
Itzamna, one of the earliest leader of the Mayans and revered as a sun god in mythology probably led the first migrations from the Far East and settling down in the Gulf coast areas of Mexico. These first settlers probably established the Olmecs civilization that thrived in this area between 1500 B.C.E to 300 C.E., and became the pre-runners of the Aztecs, who were contemporaries of the Mayas.
A priest cum teacher named Kukulcan led a second migration from the west to Yucatan or more precisely the Soconusco region of the Pacific Coast, by around 1800 B.C.E. This migration established the first Mayan settlements and Kukulcan became the founder of the Mayan kingdom.
[...] The majority of the Mayan people at this time lived in the central lowlands of Mexico and Belize. The Northern Yucatan, or the areas around present day Cancun was sparsely populated at this time, with only a few cities such as Dzibilchaltún, Xpuhil, Becan, and Chicanna thriving in those areas. The Mayan city-states prospered by conducting long distance trade with central and gulf-coast Mexico and even the Caribbean. Important trade goods included cocoa, salt, seashells, jade, obsidian and gold. The Mayan urban society was a complex and hierarchical one based on classes and professions. [...]
[...] CONCLUSION Although the Mayan civilization suffered several setbacks, most notably the classical decline of the 9th century CE and the Spanish conquest of the 15th century CE, the Mayan people never disappeared, and even today, much of the contemporary rural population of the Yucatan Peninsula, Chiapas in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize is Maya by descent and primary language. They maintain a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs, which is now a synthesis of pre-Columbian and post-Conquest ideologies, and structured by the almost total adoption of Roman Catholicism. [...]
[...] This broke the back of the Mayan resistance and the Spaniards could now establish their dominance over the Mayan urban centers. Those Mayans who survived moved into villages in the jungles, and had to pay heavy taxes to the Spanish government. Periodic rebellions still took place against the Spanish rule, notable ones being in 1583 C.E C.E C.E. to 1633 C.E C.E. to 1644 C.E C.E C.E C.E. and 1675 C.E . In 1697 C.E., Martin de Urusa, the Spanish governor stormed the island capital of the Itza, in Lake Peten, Guatemala, and with this, the last stronghold of the independent Mayans fell to the Spaniards. [...]
[...] MAYAN ASTRONOMY The early Mayans had an advanced knowledge of astronomy and linked their religious beliefs with astronomy and numerology. They observed celestial and terrestrial cycles, inscribed them as separate calendars and based their rituals and ceremonies with such calendars. The priest interpreted such celestial cycles and made prophecies based on the number relations of all their calendars. They also configured constellations of gods and places. The Dresden Codex of the 11th century, one of the rare Mayan texts to have survived the Spanish conquest provides valuable information regarding the astronomical phenomena, observations, and calculations that the Mayans indulged in. [...]
[...] The Itza tribe immigrated south to Lake Peten in Guatemala, where they established a kingdom with their capital and sacred city of Flores Island, and later on, this became the only surviving Mayan state when the Spaniards overran the Yucatan and other Mayan lands. POST-CLASSICAL DEVELOPMENTS The post-classical Mayan cities developed their own distinct character and accomplishments, different and less impressive then their Classical predecessors. Unlike the open and sprawling cities of the Classic period, post-classical Mayan cities developed into fortress-like defensive structures. [...]
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