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The Rise of Maya Civilization. Building a Civilization in the Rain Forest. 2.1 A. Challenges of the Rain Forest . The classic Maya settled in the Yucatan Peninsula in modern-day Guatemala , Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, SE Mexico

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The Rise of Maya Civilization

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The rise of maya civilization

The Rise of Maya Civilization

Building a civilization in the rain forest

Building a Civilization in the Rain Forest

2.1 A

Challenges of the rain forest

Challenges of the Rain Forest

  • The classic Maya settled in the Yucatan Peninsula in modern-day Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, SE Mexico

  • Dense rainforest covered much of the land and made farming difficult

  • Climate was hot, dry, humid

Challenges contd

Challenges Contd.

  • Depended on seasonal rainfall for water

  • Rain soaked through limestone bedrock, leaving little surface water

City centers

City Centers

  • Built immense ceremonial centers/city states at different sites

  • At Tikal, built temple one , a 130 ft. high step pyramid.

  • Several city states, not one united country

Classic maya adaptations

Classic Maya Adaptations

  • Successfully farmed in the rain forest by:

    • using slash and burn agriculture.

    • Raised fields

    • Irrigated gardens

  • Planted and harvested corn, squash, and beans.

  • Mayan Families spread out – learned to cooperate in food production

Maya social and political organization

Maya Social and Political Organization

2.1 B

The rise of maya civilization


Considered a god-king

Responsible for political leadership

Lords, mostly men,

Women had great influence on political decisions



Lived near ceremonial centers and helped lords run cities

Gathered taxes, supplies, and labor for construction projects

Served as war captains who led peasant armies during war



Were powerful because they maintained favor with the gods.

Led religious rituals, calculated positions of stars, and treated the sick

Practiced human sacrifice on a limited scale

Merchants artisans

Merchants/ Artisans

  • Artisans produced sculptures, codices, and murals to pay tribute to gods

Merchantstraded salt, cotton, fish, and animal skins for obsidian , jade, quetzal feathers, copal, and cocoa beans over long distances



Men worked in fields

Women managed household

Rewarded for their loyalty by being allowed to attend royal marriages and important religious ceremonies



Recruited from surplus children, war prisoners, and criminals

Required to do difficult or undesirable tasks like grinding maize

Not badly treated, but were sometime killed and buried with master

Noteworthy achievements of the maya

Noteworthy Achievements of the Maya

2.1 C



  • Legends were recorded on stelae, urns, murals, and codices

  • No Classic Maya literature survives, but legends in PopolVuh, the mayan creation myth.



  • Only native American people to develop a complete writing system

  • Represented ideas and objects with block like symbols or glyphs.



  • Structures not as massive as in other cultures

  • Notes for its decorative stone work, graceful statues, intricate facades, and ornamental roofs

  • Distinctive feature was the corbeledarch

How do we know

How Do We Know?



  • Sophisticated number system based on units of twenty, written with bars for 5s, dots for 1s, and sign for 0.



  • Had exact knowledge of moon phases

  • Able to predict eclipses of the sun and moon

Tikal guatemala http www tikalpark com soundsbirds02 html

Tikal, Guatemala



  • Religious obsession with time for predicting futureled to development of calendars

  • Calendars were complex systems using several interlocking cycles of time.

Ball game

Ball Game

  • Splendid courts still stand at many Maya sites (e.g. Tikal)

  • Game played both for recreation and religious purposes.

Solving the mystery of the lost maya

Solving the Mystery of the Lost Maya

Copan s glyph a leaf nosed bat

Copan’s Glyph – a leaf-nosed bat!





The calendar wheels used for astronomical predictions

The Calendar Wheels: Used for Astronomical Predictions

  • Vague Year: 365 days

    • 18 months , 20 days per month

    • 5 leftover days, no leap years

  • Sacred Round: 260 day year

    • Cermonial

    • Based on the length of time a woman is pregnant

    • Based on 1-13 repeating with 20 day names in two interlocking wheels

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