A Brief Look at the Mayan Civilization

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After the disappearance of the Olmec in 100 BCE many Mesoamerican complex societies arose and continued to carry on many of the things of the Olmec culture. The ceremonial centers that were now being established brought about large populations of residents to the area. Trade networks linked the new areas and extended across Mesoamerica. They developed similar to those in the eastern hemisphere. The earliest heirs to the Olmec were the Maya people. The Maya can be analyzed in terms of their culture. This civilization came about in Mesoamerica around 250 AD with a great influence coming from that of the Olmec. The first 650 years of the Maya civilization’s existence was known as the Classic Period. They created a remarkable society of more than 40 cities in the region which is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, and northern Belize. The cities contained mostly ceremonial centers and majority of the Maya lived a rural agricultural life around the cities. The Maya civilization has come to be known as a “lost” civilization. The Maya utilized a system of agriculture with their primary crop being maize (corn). Also growing other crops such as beans and squash. The farmers of this area built irrigation systems, dug canals to carry water, and also built terraces so that they would be capable of farming on hillsides. Cacao was consumed by mostly nobles and was used as money for the Maya. They also built elaborate temples, pyramids, and stone buildings, usually limestone. The Maya constructed a system of writing which consisted of hieroglyphs and an advanced calendar as well. They made books from the bark of fig trees which were called codices. The Olmec civilization had a great influence on much of the Maya’s culture. Maya cultural developm... ... middle of paper ... ...ciety were a part of an active slave trade. Slaves were typically owned by commoners or elites. Slaves became slaves by failing to pay a debt and also as a form of punishment for a particular crime. They were often prisoners of war. If they were not used as a sacrifice, typically they became a slave. Women of the Maya society carried out most of the duties for their families. The women raised the children and took care of the families animals. They also cooked, cleaned, and made clothing and other textiles. Women also created ceramics for the household and also for trade. Inscriptions on stelae indicated the importance of forging marriage alliances among ruling families. Women did not take part in activities such as ritual ball games, war, or smoking. Women that are depicted in certain representations mainly appear leading roles as mothers or as a male companion.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that mesoamerican complex societies arose after the disappearance of the olmec in 100 bce. the ceremonial centers that were now being established brought large populations of residents to the area.
  • Explains that the maya civilization came about in mesoamerica around 250 ad with a great influence coming from that of the olmec.
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