The Maya were one of the major early civilizations of Mesoamerica, and created a thriving civilization from around A.D. 250 to 900 that covered modern-day Guatemala, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula. The civilization was formed from around 60 separate kingdoms. These kingdoms routinely traded, intermarried and warred among themselves.Continue Reading
The earliest known Maya settlements date to approximately 1800 B.C. These early Maya peoples were agricultural, and grew various crops, such as corn, beans, squash and cassava.
During the classical Maya period, from A.D. 250 to 900, the Maya built impressive cities from stone, including huge stepped stone pyramids topped with temple sanctuaries. Each city held between 5,000 and 50,000 people, and the civilization may have reached up to 2 million people at its peak. Maya cities were supported by a large population of farmers. Unsustainable slash-and-burn farming methods may have played a part in the eventual decline of the Maya after A.D. 800. However, there remain approximately 6 million modern Maya living, as of 2015.
The Maya created advanced writing and calendar systems and made great strides in mathematics and astronomy, including the use of zero. The Maya are also known for their artwork, such as ceramic vases, carved stone monuments and lintels. The Maya were one of the few early civilizations to develop in a dense jungle region.Learn more about Ancient America