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The Maya

The Maya were an advanced Pre-Colombian culture inhabiting present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and northern Honduras. The culture reached its apex around 800 A.D. before going into steep decline. The region is still home to many people descended from the Maya who retain dress, language and other cultural traditions of long ago.

The Maya Calendar
The ancient Maya were keen astronomers and mathematicians and they had two complex, accurate calendars which they used to record time.

The Ruins of Xochicalco
Not far from Mexico City is the Xochicalco archaeological site. Xochicalco was a thriving pre-Hispanic city and commercial hub around 700-900 A.D. Although lost for years, the city was rediscovered and excavated and is now a popular visitor destination.

The Ancient Maya and Human Sacrifice
The Ancient Maya practiced human sacrifice for a variety of political and religious reasons.

Ancient Maya Astronomy
The Ancient Maya were gifted astronomers who were interested in every aspect of their skies. They painstakingly charted the movements of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars, as they believed they were Gods traveling through the heavens and back and forth to the Earth and the Underworld. Their interest in astronomy impacted many aspects of Maya...

The Popol Vuh - the Maya Bible
The Popol Vuh is the Maya story of creation. One copy of these legends survived the Spanish colonial period and today it is a priceless treasure not only for the Quiche Maya but for historians and ethnographers.

Biography of Pedro de Alvarado
Hundreds of Spanish conquistadores came to the New World in search of glory and gold. These men were all violent and ruthless, but one man stood out from the rest for his cruelty: Pedro de Alvarado, conqueror of the Maya.

The Maya: Conquest of the K’iche by Pedro de Alvarado
In 1523, ruthless conquistador Pedro de Alvarado set forth from Mexico with a force of 160 men and several thousand native allies. Following tales of rich kingdoms to the south, they found themselves faced by 10,000 Mayan K'iche warriors. Alvarado emerged victorious from the ensuing bloodbath and the Conquest of the Maya began.

The Colonization of Guatemala
The region of present-day Guatemala posed many challenges for would-be conquistadors and colonizers.

Ancient Maya Economy and Trade
The ancient Maya developed an extensive trading network for commerce in basic goods as well as prestige items such as gold and jade.

What Happened to the Ancient Maya?
It's one of history's greatest mysteries: an advanced civilization in the foggy rainforests of Central America suddenly went into a steep, irreversible decline. What happened to the ancient Maya?

Maya Books
The Maya civilization was literate and at the time of the Spanish conquest, there were many books in the Maya cities of southern Mexico and Guatemala. Unfortunately, most of the books were destroyed and today only fragments of four Maya books remain.

Timeline of the Ancient Maya
The Maya civilization peaked around 800 A.D., but it had been around for a long time before that...and is still there today! Learn more about the different eras of the Maya.

The History of Tikal
Tikal was one of the mightiest cities in the ancient Maya world, dominating its region and lesser city-states.

The Dresden Codex
The Dresden Codex is one of only four surviving Maya books. It is mostly about astronomy and religious rituals.

Maya Glyphs and Writing
The ancient Maya had a complex written language consisting of hundreds of different characters or glyphs. For a long time, no one could read the handful of Maya texts that survived the ages, but now researchers have deciphered most of them.

Politics of the Ancient Maya
The Ancient Maya had a complex political system with a king at the top. The King had many duties including leading in times of war and acting as a conduit between his people and the Gods.

The Maya Classic Era
The Classic Era (300 A.D. - 800 A.D.) was the "Golden Age" of the Ancient Maya. At this time, their civilization flourished, reaching great heights of culture, art and power.

The Paris Codex
The Paris Codex is one of only four surviving Maya books. It is full of priceless information about Maya culture, particularly calendars and prophecy.

Ancient Maya Architecture
The Ancient Maya were talented builders whose temples and palaces are still standing thousands of years after being constructed.

The Madrid Codex
The Madrid Codex is one of only four surviving books attributed to the Ancient Maya culture. It is the largest of the four and contains much information about Maya calendars and rituals.

Ten Facts About the Ancient Maya
The Ancient Maya are among the most mysterious of all the lost civilizations. What do we know for certain about these enigmatic people?

The Ancient City of Mayapan
Located in the Mexican State of Yucatan, Mayapan is a ruined city associated with the Maya culture. It was the last of the great Maya cities, reaching its peak around 1300 A.D. before being abandoned in 1450 A.D.

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