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Maya Kings and Cities.

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Presentation on theme: "Maya Kings and Cities."— Presentation transcript:

1 Maya Kings and Cities

2 Maya Create City-States
The homeland of the Maya stretched from southern Mexico into northern Central America and this region included a highland and lowland region. The lowlands lie to the north and include the dry scrub forest of the Yucatan Peninsula and the dense, steamy jungles of southeastern Mexico and northern Guatemala. The highlands are further south which is a range of cool, cloud-wreathed mountains that stretch from southern Mexico to El Salvador.


4 Urban Centers The period from C.E. is known as the Classic Period of Maya civilization and during this time, the Maya built spectacular cities such as Tikal which was a major center in northern Guatemala. Each city was an independent city-state that was ruled by a god-king and served as a center for religious ceremonies and trade. Maya cities featured giant pyramids, temples, palaces and elaborate stone carvings.


6 Agriculture and Trade Although Maya city-states were independent, they were linked through alliances and trade. Cities would exchange local products like flint, feathers and honey along with craft goods like cotton textiles and jade ornaments. Agriculture provided the basis of Maya life. They grew crops such as maize, beans and squash.

7 Kingdoms Built on Dynasties
Successful farming methods led to the accumulation of wealth and the development of social classes. The noble classes were on top with the merchants and those with specialized skills were below them. The peasant majority were at the bottom of the social classes. The Maya King was at the top and he was regarded as a holy figure and his position was hereditary.


9 Religion Shapes Maya Life
Religion influenced most aspects of Maya life. The Maya believed in many gods that could be good, evil or both. Gods were also associated with the four directions and with different colors. The Maya also believed that each day was a living god whose behavior could be predicted with the help of a system of calendars.

10 Religious Practices The Maya worshipped their gods in various ways.
They would pray, make offerings, pierce and cut their bodies and offer their blood to the gods. They sometimes even carried out human sacrifice.

11 Math and Religion Maya religious beliefs also led to the development of the calendar, mathematics and astronomy. The Maya developed a 260 day religious calendar which consisted of thirteen 20 day months. A second 365 day solar calendar consisted of eighteen 20 day months with a separate period of 5 days at the end. The two calendars were linked together like meshed gears so that any given day could be identified in both cycles.


13 Maya astronomers were able to attain great precision by using a math system that included the concept of zero. The Maya used a shell symbol for zero, dots for the numbers 1-4 and a bar for 5. They used the numerical system primarily for calendar and astronomical work.

14 Written Language The Maya also developed the most advanced writing system in the ancient Americas. Maya writing consisted of about 800 hieroglyphic symbols or glyphs. They used their writing system to record important events in history and they would carve their glyphs into stone or record them in a bark-paper book called a codex. Only three of these books exist today.


16 Mysterious Decline The remarkable history of the Maya ended in mystery. In the late 800s, the Maya suddenly abandoned many of their cities and invaders from the north, the Toltecs, moved into the lands that had been occupied by the Maya. No one really knows why this happened, though experts offer overlapping theories.

17 By the 700s, warfare had broken out among the various Maya city-states and increased warfare disrupted trade and produced economic hardship. Population growth and over-farming may have damaged the environment and led to food shortages, famine and disease. By the time that the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s, the Maya were divided into small, weak city-states that gave little hint of their former glory.

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