By- Khushi Bisht

Civilizations refer to a dynamic lifestyle that developed as humans started to build advanced and urban societies. From the Mesopotamians to the ancient Egyptians there have been countless civilizations that have left their imprint on human culture. “The Maya”, perhaps the most well-known, powerful, and developed civilization in Mesoamerica emerged around 1800 B.C. in the Yucatán. 

The Mayans’ were the first ingenious people to establish one of Central America’s great civilizations. To this day, this civilization is known for its writing system known as ‘Maya Glyphs’, advanced calendar systems, and as well as farming and architectural accomplishments.

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The Maya Civilization history is divided into three major stages: Pre-Classic (1800 B.C. to A.D. 250), Classic (A.D. 250 to 900), and Post-Classic (A.D. 900 to 1519).

Lidar virtually stripped-down vegetation to reveal Mayan civilization. This project was aired in Natgeo. Wikimedia Commons

Pre-Classic Era(1800 B.C. to A.D. 250)

In 1,800 BC, near the Pacific Coast in northern Guatemala, the first documented settlements were established. San Bartolo, in the Maya lowlands, is one of the earliest sites. At this early phase, the Mayans grew various crops ranging from corn to beans and chili peppers. Aside from farming, the Pre-classic Maya exhibited more developed social customs such as pyramid and city construction and monumental inscriptions. Mayan settlements saw a rapid increase in population during the Late Preclassic Period.

Classic Era (A.D. 250 to 900)

This era is considered to be the pinnacle of the Maya Civilization. It was during this period, the Mayans established the hierarchical structure and attained their zenith of power and control. They invented their unique calendar and writing systems as well as constructed some of the spectacular monuments. Small villages developed into large cities during this time period. Since there were many cities with inhabitants of over 50,000, the development of these cities was symbolic of a thriving society.

Maya script reading order. Wikimedia Commons

Post-Classic Era (A.D. 900 to the Spanish Conquest)

Despite never achieving the peaks of the Classic Period, the Maya continued to have a major influence in Mesoamerica. This period saw the collapse of the Maya civilization and the disappearance of cities from the Maya lowlands in Mesoamerica. The Post-Classic period lasts until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in 1697 when the Yucatan was eventually conquered.

One of history’s great mysteries is the end of the Classic Era. To clarify what happened, a slew of theories have been proposed. According to some theories, the Maya civilization may have been erased by disastrous climate changes including rising temperatures and extreme droughts. Overpopulation and excessive use of the land are also thought to have wiped out the Maya civilization.

The Maya Codex of Mexico. Wikimedia Commons

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Mayan Civilization’s history can be summarised as a series of rises and falls, with town rising to strength and then falling out of favor. Throughout its history, the Mayan civilization has experienced many disastrous falls. Historians have been unable to determine why several major Mayan cities were abandoned between the 2nd and 10th centuries.

Despite the fact that these enigmatic events are considered to be the collapse, none of them led to the death of the Mayan civilization. Hundreds and thousands of Mayan-speaking descendants still live in the area to this day.