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What was ancient Mayan civilization like?

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Quick Answer

The Mayans were a prolific civilization that made advances in mathematics, science, invention and architecture. During the height of their civilization, they had cities that were structured not unlike a modern community, possessing schools, hospitals and sports arenas. There was also a darker side, as human sacrifice was widely accepted.

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What was ancient Mayan civilization like?
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Full Answer

During the zenith of its power in the sixth century A.D., the Mayan civilization was one of the most important and strongest civilizations in pre-Spanish Mexico and Central America. They built great stone cities that included iconic pyramid-shaped temples for the performance of their religious rituals. Many Mayans were farmers and craftsmen, and there were also a number of scholars in their midst.

During the El Tajin Period, when the civilization reached its fullness of power and wealth, a central city of the Mayans was El Tajin. Archaeologists have uncovered several ancient ball courts in and around the city, so it seems that sports played an important part in the life of this city.

Among the many intellectual achievements of the Mayans is their independent discovery of the concept of "zero" and their creation of a startlingly accurate calendar. They were also a practical people, developing a written language and better methods of irrigating and dividing their crops.

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