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Who were the Mayas?

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Moreover we do not know what we know: With Maya same thing happens to other pre-Columbian cultures. And in the particular case of them the reason could not be simpler: the arrival of the Spanish in America many codices were adorned with the figure of "Quetzalcoatl", the feathered serpent and remember that one of the prejudices of the Middle Ages to associate the snake with the devil, then were burned as evil things; let's not be harsh to judge this to our ancestors, every age and civilization have them.

They inhabited the southern border states of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras which collectively is known as Mesoamerica. The history of the Maya has been divided into three periods for study: the Preclassic or older than this century BC X until the fourth century A.D. ; the classic that reaches the tenth century; Postclassic ending in the seventeenth century. In the first period a population sits in Peten (Guatemala) or a little further north, whose origin is entirely unknown even when you speculate Olmec origin or not, the fact is that they descend the Maya and began with a primarily agricultural economy based on exchange with few military-type activities and a simple religion that worshiped the spirits.

In the mid to late this time the Mayans made mathematical and astronomical discoveries that have become famous among some scholars. In the classical period settlements become cities, the social structure is more complex, religion and pantheon of gods includes an expanded by centuries of tradition and technology that allows them to perform the great buildings that we can still see mythology. His army becomes very important achievements, and even when there is little evidence, had to be sacrificed as it seems cruel to the vanquished.

Because of these few references long (and very naively) thought that the Maya were a peaceful people, ruled by priests who did not stop to have their importance despite the noble ruling class. In the post-classical period a slow abandonment of large cities and religious centers which is a mystery to archaeologists and historians as not explained by any theory as were abandoned occurs, opinions are very adverse to each other, some think it could be a civil war, others think plagues many in that drained agricultural soils and the fantasy of many who think great things, all very possible because they often leave historical records.

In my personal opinion I think we can no longer speak of a culture if not many Postclassic cultures as shown in such a large number of dialects encountered by the Spanish arrival in America no less than 40. In order're talking about a period of decline where culture is branched into other ethnicities or merges with another and although we speak of small kingdoms never have the splendor of the classical period.

The Mayans provide us with engineering tools from the Stone Age will not even be compared to that used by the Egyptians in the Bronze Age, a numerical system that includes zero many centuries before the Hindus find it. The Maya also give us a much more perfect than the Julian solar calendar, which is just a little later, and that was not found a precedent throughout pre-Columbian America. The cultural richness of the current Mayan and ethnic groups descended from them just give us a little idea of ​​their ancient culture and its classic period.
Translated for educational purposes.
Meanings, definitions, concepts of daily use

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