The Mayan civilization made major accomplishments in astronomy, agriculture, engineering and communications including building elaborate cities without modern machinery and developing one of the world's first written languages. They also discovered how to grow beans, corn, squash and cassava in places that were not conducive to plant growth.
The Mayan civilization survived for more than 2,000 years from 300 A.D. to 900 A.D. in the time period known as the Classic Period. The Mayan people were made up of people who lived in the present-day areas of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador.
The Mayan written language was made up of 800 glyphs or symbols. Each of the glyphs represented a syllable or a word and could be combined with other glyphs in countless ways. The Mayan believed that the universe was present in everyday life and the Mayans had a strong knowledge of the different celestial bodies. They knew how to predict solar eclipses, develop complex calendars and even used the astrological cycles to help plan both planting and harvesting of crops. The Mayan measured time with two different complex calendar systems as well.
The Mayan's ability to build tools and make innovations without modern machinery continues to amaze scholars. They built elaborate temples and great cities with decorative details using a rainbow of glittery paints made from mica, and beautiful weaved cloth made from looms.