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The mysterious. The Mayan civilization spread to the Yucatan Peninsula. It included more than 40 cities of 5,000 to 50,000 people each. The Maya cities.

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Presentation on theme: "The mysterious. The Mayan civilization spread to the Yucatan Peninsula. It included more than 40 cities of 5,000 to 50,000 people each. The Maya cities."— Presentation transcript:

1 The mysterious



4 The Mayan civilization spread to the Yucatan Peninsula. It included more than 40 cities of 5,000 to 50,000 people each. The Maya cities were split into two areas the highlands and the lowlands The highlands traded with those in the lowlands. This way, people all over could get things they did not have nearby.

5 Southern Lowlands Covered by a rainforest Contained scattered savannas and swamps Grew crops Played an important role in transportation route Northern Highlands Also comprised of forests – much drier, mainly grew small thorny trees Climate: Much cooler and drier; fertile soil Volcanic Highlands: Source of obsidian, jade, and other precious metals used to develop a trade Subject to tsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquakes


7 Mayan society was split up into many distinct city-states, often warring, which usually surrounded temples Traveling merchants served not just as traders but also as ambassadors to neighboring lands and allied people Traded mainly in exotic and luxury goods such as rare animal skins, cacao beans, and finely crafted works of art which rulers coveted as signs of special status Cacao beans were used as money

8 Cacao beans used as money

9 Set up as a hierarchy King and ruling family Priests Hereditary nobility (from which came the merchant class) Warriors Professionals and artisans Peasants Slaves

10 King and ruling family Ruled from the city-kingdoms such as Tikal Ruled by semi-divine right and believed their connection with the gods was maintained by ritual human sacrifice Often had names associated with the jaguar Priests Maintained an elaborate calendar and transmitted knowledge of writing, astronomy, and mathematics

11 Mayan King Mayan Priest

12 Hereditary nobility (from which came the merchant class) Owned most of the land and cooperated with the kings and priests by organizing military forces and participating in religious rituals Warriors Mayan kingdoms fought constantly with each other and warriors won tremendous prestige by capturing high- ranking enemies Captives were usually made slaves, humiliated, tortured, and ritually sacrificed

13 Mayan Warrior outfits and a male and female warrior

14 Professionals and artisans Architects and sculptors supervised construction of the large monuments and public buildings Peasants Fed the entire society Slaves Provided physical labor for the construction of cities and monuments Often had been captured in battle

15 The Maya believed their rulers were related to the gods. Priests were the most educated people and planned religious ceremonies. Professional warriors fought battles against other cities. Merchants organized the transportation and distribution of trade.

16 The lower classes lived outside the city. The women worked in the house, and the men hunted and farmed. The lower class supported the upper class with food and labor, and the upper class led religious ceremonies for them in return. Slaves were the lowest class and consisted of orphans, slaves’ children, and people who owed money. Majority of Mayan society was lower class

17 Had several gods to represent all of nature Believed in cosmology Had different gods in the different levels of the world Upperworld – 13 levels Middleworld – where human’s are Underworld – 9 levels, mirror image of worlds above

18 A popular bloodletting ritual was for a Mayan to pierce his own tongue and thread a thin rope through the hole, thus letting the blood run down the rope Sometimes they would catch the blood on paper and burn it, so the smoke reaches the gods Mayan kings and queens gave blood more often than villagers

19 They believed the gods needed blood to prevent disasters and the end of the world. Blood is a metaphor for control and to see spiritually deeper Blood and pain bring “vision serpent” Used sting ray spines to poke the tongue an inch through

20 Stingray spine

21 The Mayas had several methods of giving the human sacrifices. Often, the priests took the victim to the altar at the temple. Then the priests cut the heart out of the living victim and presented it to the god. In another method, the priests tied the victim to a wooden pole. Then they threw spears and arrows at the victim's chest in the area of the heart.


23 In the third type of sacrifice, they threw the victim into a sacred well. the most famous of these wells is the Well of Sacrifices at Chichén Itzá. If victims survived the fall and did not drown, the priests pulled them back out of the well. The Mayas believed the gods had chosen to spare these victims. The priests then asked the victims what messages they brought back from the gods. The victims received special treatment from then on since the Mayas believed they had spoken to the gods.

24 Mayans use slash and burn method to clear land for farming Main food source is from farming: Mayans plant corn (maize), cacao, bananas, squash, beans, and cotton for weaving. Used bees for honey and wax Meat was rarely eaten because it is expensive and/or hard to find. Dogs and turkeys were the main animals kept as pets and/or food.

25 Best soils were found in southern highland valleys where volcanic eruptions have enriched the earth Spring-like climate and fertile valleys have made southern highlands a popular place to settle, despite volcanic threats Mayans built terraces to retain the silt and therefore greatly improved agricultural production

26 Terracing for crops

27 The Maya calendar was complex and served a variety of purposes Shaman used the day a child was born in the 20-day cycle to forecast its future. Recorded recurring cosmological cycles, such as the sun, the moon, and Venus, some of the most important objects in the sky. By combining astronomy and mathematics, calculated the length of the solar year at days– about 17 seconds shorter than the figure reached by modern astronomers

28 The 2012 phenomenon comprises a range of Mayan beliefs that cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on December 21, 2012, which is said to be the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mayan Calendar. To support this, several astronomical alignments and numerological formulae related to this date


30 The Maya built cities without using metal tools. The Maya built observatories for priests to study the stars. They developed religious and agricultural calendars. They created a number system and were the first to include “0”. They developed a writing system that included both an alphabet and hieroglyphics wrote in bark paper books.

31 Mayan Calendar and Observatory

32 Around 900 A.D., for reasons still not proven, the Mayas suddenly started to decline. The theories proposed by archaeologists for their collapse are very diverse and most likely will remain a mystery forever. Due to this, the theories that caused the disintegration of this incredible civilization deserve to be looked at in more detail.

33 increased warfare over food people may have rebelled against the kings, who demanded too much of them causing a civil war The top of the government hierarchy fell a part foreign invasion from the Spanish Climate change, scientists found odd levels of oxygen in different areas ecological problems caused by destruction of the forests epidemic diseases like the bubonic plague natural disasters (earthquake, long drought)

34 When the Spanish conquistadors stumbled over Mayan ruins six hundred years later, they didn’t believe that the ancestors of the indigenous people--whom they described as “savages”--had built these architectural wonders.

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