The Ancient Maya

The area known as Mesoamerica today has been the highlight of archaeological research since the late 1880’s. The extensive research that has been ongoing since then has produced great archaeological and anthropological work that takes us into the amazing world of the ancient Maya. They were are a phenomenal and awe-inspiring civilization who secured an incredible way of life in an area explorers once declared ‘impossible’ to sustain the intellectual processes that were necessary to create a civilization. They were so very wrong.

The Maya area, which includes that area of Southern Mexico, the Gulf Coast, the Yucatan and Quintanaroo; the area which includes the countries of Belize, Guatemala and the North Western portions of El Salvador and Honduras was the landscape in which the people that will be known as the Maya will thrive and create this amazing culture we know of today.

Within the Maya area, archaeologists have broken the landscape down into three sectors: the highlands of Southern Guatemala and the Chiapas region of Mexico – the Southern Highlands is a mountainous region that reaches over 12,000 feet into the sky; the Central lowlands – includes the Peten of Guatemala and the country of Belize – the mountains go up over 3,800 feet into the sky, and the Northern Lowlands – includes that portion of Mexico known as the Yucatan. The highest area here goes up to 30 feet into the sky. This area is called the Puuc area or the Puuc hills.

Maya history is broken down into three time frames. The formative or pre-classic period spans from 1500BCE to 300AC. This is 1800 years of building the foundations of this grand culture. The classic period reflects the time between 300AC and 900AC. Within this time the Maya will reach the apex of their grand cultural development. The Post Classic is within the time frame of 900AC to the “historical period” of 1492AC.

These people were creators of many things and in some instances, they took what was already created and made it incredibly better and more pronounced. For example, the writing started with another culture (Zapotecs) but the Maya took it to a grand establishment – on bark paper and stone. The ball game and monumental architecture has been credited to the Olmec (Gulf Coast region) development.

Incredible creations that these people left abandoned in the jungle of the Mesoamerican region include monumental art such as palaces, temples, sac be (white roads – ceremonial), plazas, ball courts and carved monuments such as stelaes, to name a few. Their religion and ideology has been well documented, from Sun god, Rain god and the god of Corn, to the idea that the earth was flat and seated on the back of a turtle and a crocodile. A writing system that made them the only literate ancient American culture on what we know today as the American continent – a logographical and logo syllabic writing style. A vigesimal counting system of numbers which reflects counting by twenties rather than for example our decimal (tens) counting system – they could count into infinity with only three symbols for numbers. They were some of the most amazing astronomers anywhere in the world who predicted events up to one hundred years in the future, and with the perfection of their counting system, combined with their astronomy, created two amazing calendars which they called the Haab (Solar) and the Tzolkin (lunar) calendars. Their calendar rounds lasted 5,125 years. This calendar round interestingly ends on December 21st, 2012 when the astrological sign Pisces is removed from the back drop of the universe astrologically and Aquarius makes its way in. The amazing thought of a grand coincidence!

Never ending processes still occur in this ancient jungle where the ancient Maya once created this enchanted story. Many people have come to this part of the world to explore and to be wowed by this history. In Belize, the history exists all around us. The great spirits beckons us natives and visitors alike to immerse ourselves into this grand history as there are many more facts and myths to uncover.

Come to Belize and let NINE BELIZE ECOCULTURAL TOURS take you on a Maya experience of a life time.

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