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The Maya. Classical Period A.D. 250 – A.D. 900. This map shows the area in Central America where Mayan Priest-Kings ruled over city-states. The region is covered in tropical rainforests with fertile soil. Cenote.

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Classical period a d 250 a d 900 l.jpg
Classical Period A.D. 250 – A.D. 900

This map shows the area in Central America where Mayan Priest-Kings ruled over city-states. The region is covered in tropical rainforests with fertile soil.


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Cenote

Cenote are sinkholes that form naturally to expose sections of a vast underground river network covering parts of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Maya believed cenote and caves were the entrance to Xibalba (she - bal- ba), the underworld.

National Geographic video on the Mayan Underworld.


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The Mayan Code

The Maya developed a highly complex system of writing, using pictographs and phonetic or syllabic elements. Mayan writing was highly sophisticated. Most likely only members of the higher classes were able to read their symbols.

Maya writing was composed of recorded inscriptions on stone and wood and used within architecture. Folding tree books were made from fig tree bark and placed in royal tombs. Unfortunately, many of these books did not survive the humidity of the tropics or the invasion of the Spanish, who regarded the symbolic writing (Mayan Writing) as the work of the devil.

The Maya also carved these symbols into stone, but the most common place for Mayan writing was probably the highly perishable books they made from bark paper, coated with lime to make a fresh white surface.

These 'books' were screen-folded and bound with wood and deer hide. They are called codices, codex is singular. Because of their perishable nature and zealous Spanish book burning, only four codices remain today:

The Dresden CodexThe Madrid CodexThe Paris CodexThe Grolier Codex



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Stele

A stele is an upright stone slab or shaft that, in ancient times, served as a monument, memorial, or marker and was generally inscribed. Ancient Maya stelae usually were placed before temples and carved with rulers' portraits and texts recording political and military exploits.



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The Mayan Calendar and 2012

The date December 21st, 2012 A.D. (13.0.0.0.0 in the Long Count), represents an extremely close conjunction of the Winter Solstice Sun with the crossing point of the Galactic Equator (Equator of the Milky Way) and the Ecliptic (path of the Sun), what that ancient Maya recognized as the Sacred Tree.

The Tzolkin is a 260-day calendar based around the period of human gestation. It is composed of 20 day-signs, each of which has 13 variations, and was (and still is) used to determine character traits and time harmonics, in a similar way to Western astrology. The Maya also used a 365-day calendar. They measured long time periods by means of a Long Count, in which one 360-day year  (a "Tun"), consists of 18 x 20-day "months" ("Uinals"). Twenty of these Tuns is a Katun; 20 Katuns is a Baktun (nearly 400 years); and 13 Baktuns adds up to a "Great Cycle" of 1,872,000 days, ( 5200 Tuns, or about 5125 years).

Mayan scholars have been attempting to correlate the Long Count with our Western Gregorian calendar, since the beginning of this century. This was finalized in 1950, and puts the start of the Great Cycle ( day 0.0.0.0.0)  on 11th August 3114 BC, and the end-date (known as 13.0.0.0.0.) as 21st December 2012. 


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Mayan Numbers and Mayan Mathematics

Maya mathematics

Instead of ten digits like we have today, the Maya used a base number of 20. They also used a system of bar and dot as "shorthand" for counting. A dot stood for one and a bar stood for five.



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