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Mayas. Mesoamerican Setting. Central Mexico to northern Central America Maya Homeland Highlands to south Some by active volcanoes – ash made rich fertile soil Cool with wet and dry seasons Lowlands to north Yucatan Peninsula North = flat and hot South = wetter & greener.

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mesoamerican setting
Mesoamerican Setting

Central Mexico to northern Central America

Maya Homeland

Highlands to south

Some by active volcanoes – ash made rich fertile soil

Cool with wet and dry seasons

Lowlands to north

Yucatan Peninsula

North = flat and hot

South = wetter & greener

mesoamerican setting1
Mesoamerican Setting

Rainforest Agriculture

Lowland rainforest

Soil fragile & thin

Hot and steamy

80 inches of rain/year

Farming Method Slash-and-burn

Cut down trees/brush & burn

Use for a few years and move on

Years later return

Need 70 acres for 5 people

maya civilization
Maya Civilization

Lost Cities

John Stephens – American Explorer

Frederick Catherwood – British Artist

maya civilization1
Maya Civilization

Pre-Classic Mayas

1800 BC to AD 250

Developed Skills

maya civilization2
Maya Civilization

Classic Mayas

AD 250 to 900

Cities: Tikal, Palenque, Copan

Tikal had about 2700 buildings

Had few thousand inhabitants in actual city – most lived on farms within 3-5 miles

maya civilization3
Maya Civilization

Post Classic Mayas

AD 900 to 1520

Ended after Spanish conquered Mexico

Chichen-itza built

Between 800 and 900 began to collapse


Food shortage

Natural disaster



Where was the Mayan civilization located?

What were the three main time periods?

How would they farm in the rainforests?

Where did most of the people live (city)?

Why did the civilization collapse?

maya society
Maya Society

Life Among the Mayas

Social Structure


Considered a god-king

Had advisors

Nobles, Priests, Warriors


Read and write

Led armies during war

Collected taxes

Supervised construction

Priests maintained favor with the gods

Led rituals, sacrifices, consulted

maya society1
Maya Society

Life Among the Mayas

Social Structure

Merchants, Artisans

Trade and crafts also a part of economy

Travel by sea, river, roads to other city-states

Painted murals of Mayan life and battles

Sculptures for temples

Weavers and potters


Backbone of society

Grew maize, squash, beans and other crops

When not farming, working on temples

Soldiers during war

Women prepared food, wove


Manual labor for owners

Sometimes parents sold children

War prisoner


Sometimes better life than peasants

Sometimes sacrificed when master died

maya society2
Maya Society

Life Among the Mayas

Daily Life

Men on farm, hunt, maintained buildings

Women raise children, tend to flocks, garden

Basic social unit – extended family

Day of ceremonies – go to city

May trade

May attend ballgame

maya society3
Maya Society

Gods and Rulers

Maya Rule

Each city had own king (city-state)

Usually passed from father to son

Worked with nobles and priests

Gained prestige by winning wars

Had a sphere of influence

Area dominated by particular ruler

Created alliances

maya society4
Maya Society

Gods and Rulers

Maya religion

Most gods represented natural phenomena like rain, lightning

Believe king descended from gods

Communicate to gods through sacred rituals

King carried on sacred rituals like the ballgame

Some rituals required spilled blood – kings pierce self to get blood for ritual

Human sacrifice – often removing heart





Costumes, music, dancing

quiz 2
Quiz #2

What role did nobles play?

Who was the backbone of society? Why?

How did slaves live better than peasants?

What was the kings job?

How did the people view him?

What is a sphere of influence?

What is the ballgame?

What do you know about how they would sacrifice humans?

What were festivals like?

maya achievements
Maya Achievements


Based on hieroglyphs

Used to record observations in Astronomy

History Carved in Stone

Carved in stone

Painted on walls, pottery, books

Records kept in codex


Predict solar and lunar eclipse


Understood concept of “0”


Pyramid with temple at top

Move stone with out wheel