Ancient Civilisation – Maya


Ruins of the maya civilisation

Image Credit: Flickr User brianfagan, via CC

A long time ago, around 2000 BC, some people came and settled in the rain forests of  the Yucatan Peninsula of Central America. These people were known as the Mayas. The Maya people ruled for around 1500 years and then they abandoned the peninsula and disappeared. No body knows much about how they came into being or why they left. Mysterious Mayas indeed!!

But maya people did rule for a very long time. That means they must be smart people. Yes, they were. Ever heard about Mayan calendar? They were brilliant mathematicians and developed sophisticated calendar systems. Probably first of their kind in the ancient World. They also had keen interest in astronomy . Mayans developed a writing system of their own, to represent the spoken language of its community. The system was a combination of pictures and phonetic symbols. Where did they write? Bark of fig trees covered in white lime!

Mayan society was divided into classes. Most respected were nobles and priest. Second to them were warriors, craftsmen and traders. The farmers, workers and slaves were at the bottom.

Mayans had no king ruling their vast empire. Surprised? Even I was. So how did they rule?  The empire was divided into smaller cities and each city was ruled by a noble. But despite that Maya people thought of themselves as united. Each city was connected with well constructed roads that passed jungles and swamps. All across cities, the Mayans spoke the same language, worshiped the same Gods, followed the exact same culture and rules. Chichen Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities. Mayans were excellent architects. Each city had palace, some temples, some pyramids, a central marketplace, and a ball court. Surprisingly, these structures were all built without metal tools. Their tools were made of wood, stone or bone. Pyramid Kukulcan in Chichen Itza, is one of the most famous and most visited mayan structures.

Kukulcan, the main temple at Chichen Itza

Image Credit: Flickr User kyle simourd, via CC

Archaeologist have put together a lot about their culture from the remains found at Yucatan Peninsula. The unearthed pottery shows that they must have been brilliant artists. Pottery figures give an idea about how they lived and dressed. Some of the pottery figures include a bearded man on a throne, a person in a wide hat, a ballplayer wearing heavily padded clothing, and a musician shaking a rattle. Many murals and wall paintings give an insight into their religion.

Mayan mural

Image Credit: Flickr User andrellv, via CC

Have you ever wondered that millions of years from now, ours will  be an ancient civilisation!!


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