THE MAYAN CULTURE
The ancient Mayan
civilization occupied the eastern third of Mesoamerica, primarily the
Yucatan Peninsula. The topography of the area greatly varied from
volcanic mountains, which comprised the highlands in the South, to a
porous limestone shelf, known as the Lowlands, in the central and
Both the Highlands and the Lowlands
of the region were important to the presence
of trade within the Mayan civilization. The lowlands primarily produced
crops which were used for their own personal consumption, the principle
cultigen being maize. They also grew squash, beans, chili peppers,
amaranth, manioc, cacao, cotton for light cloth, and sisal for heavy
cloth and rope.
The volcanic highlands, however, were
the source of obsidian, jade, and other precious metals like cinnabar
and hematite that the Mayans used to develop a lively trade. Although
the lowlands were not the source of any of these commodities, they still
played an important role as the origin of the transportation routes. The
rainfall was as high as 160 inches per year in the Lowlands and the
water that collected drained towards the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico
in great river systems. These rivers, of which the Usumacinta and the
Grijalva were of primary importance, were vital to the civilization as
the form of transportation for both people and materials.
Mayan civilization is
now supposed to be not one unified empire, but rather a multitude
of separate entities with a common cultural background. Similar to the
Greeks, they were religiously and artistically a nation, but politically
sovereign states. As many as twenty such states existed on the Yucatan
Peninsula, but although a woman has, on rare occasions, ascended to the
ruling position, she has never acquired the title of ‘mah kina’.
The four books of Mayan
Literature known today are the
Dresden Codex, The Madud Codex,
The Paris Codex And The Grolier Codex.
One of the greatest shows of Mayan artistic ability and culture
is the hieroglyphic stairway located at Copan. The stairway is an
iconographical complex composed of statues, figures, and ramps in
addition to the central stairway which together port ray many elements
of Mayan society. An alter is present as well as many pictorial
references of sacrifice and their gods.
who flourished between about A.D. 250 and 900, perfected the most
complex writing system in the hemisphere, mastered mathematics and
astrological calendars of astonishing accuracy, and built massive
pyramids all over Central America, from Yucatan to modern Honduras. But
what researchers have now found among these haunting irruptions of
architecture may be, among other things, reasons for admonishing today’s
world: at a time when tribal fratricide is destroying Bosnia and farmers
are carving through the rain forest, the lessons yielded by the Maya
have a disturbing resonance.
disappearance and the mysteries they left behind are still pondered by
the researchers and among various theories, the obscure possible
connection with the world’s other towering monuments like The Great
Pyramid Of Giza And The Stone Henge Of Britain are also being explored.
The Mayan Temples and Pyramids are suggested to be for example placed in
the world wide magnetic grid lines and in alignment with the other great
civilizations and monuments of earth; with The Mayan White God called
Quetzalcoatl being an Atlantean and teaching the Mayan civilization the
secrets of writing and astronomy, but the sudden collapse of such an
advanced civilization is still a baffling enigma.