The Maya civilization reached its peak around the sixth century in the area of modern Guatemala, Belize and southeastern Mexico. The Mayans were a highly religious people and many of the stone buildings in Maya cities had a religious significance.
The Mayans were an advanced civilization that made important discoveries in the fields of agriculture, calendar-making, mathematics, writing and pottery. The ruler of the Mayans was the king, who served as an intermediary between people and gods. Priests played a very important role in the society, and performed rituals, built calendars and tables of eclipses, and were said to avert plagues and famine through their prayers.
The gigantic Mayan pyramids were monuments dedicated to the gods, and priests performed sacrifices and rituals after climbing on top of them. According to evidence provided by archaeological excavations, Maya cities featured large palaces, temples and plazas. Large populations of farmers surrounded the cities and provided supplies. During the eighth century, the Maya civilization was in a state of decline, and by 900, it collapsed completely. The reason for this decline is subject to speculation, with some historians believing that it was due to a catastrophic environmental change. Others argue that the constant warfare with competing states led to the collapse of the Maya civilization.