The Maya Civilization

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The Maya Civilization The ancient Maya once occupied a vast geographic area in Central America. Their civilization inhabited an area that encompasses Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and parts of the states of Chiapas and Tabasco, as well as Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. "From the third to the ninth century, Maya civilization produced awe-inspiring temples and pyramids, highly accurate calendars, mathematics and hieroglyphics, and a complex social and political order" ("Collapse..." 1). Urban centers were important to the Maya during the Classic period; they offered the Mayans a central place to practice religion. The Mayan culture can be traced back to 1500 BC, entering the Classic period about 300 AD and flourishing between 600 and 900 AD. The basis of the culture was farming. They cultivated food crops such as maize (corn), beans, squash, and chili peppers. They also cultivated cash crops such as cotton and cacao (Palfrey 1). Maize was the principal food of the Mayas and maize production was the central economic activity. The Mayas, forced to cultivate in a tropical rain forest, used slash and burn agriculture. The growth is so rapid in the rain forest that the nutrients provided by dead plants and animal feces get used very quickly. This causes the soil to be unfertile within a few years. The Mayans would then have to use new land. Because of this, the Mayans required huge amounts of land to feed their people. The population, throughout the Classic period, remained small. Slash and burn agriculture is also labor intensive. It required the people to spend an average of 190 days in agricultural work (Hooker 4). Despite the difficulty of this labor, the remainder of the year was used to build ... ... middle of paper ... ... a place to develop art and writings. It gave them a reason to write down their history. They are a unique an interesting culture. The Mayans were a highly developed society for their time. Works Cited "Collapse: Why Do Civilizations Fall?" Out of the Past. Annenburg/CPB Multimedia. 1998. ** (30 Jan. 2001). Dumois, Luis. "The Maya Civilization: Mayan Numerals and Calendar." Mexico Connect. * html* (30 Jan. 2001). Hooker, Richard. "Civilizations in America: The Mayans." World Civilizations. 1996. ** (31 Jan. 2001). Palfrey, Dale Hoyt. "The Classic Period, Part 3 of 3-The Maya." Mexico Connect. ** (3 Feb. 2001).

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