400 BCE–900 CE Central America Read: The Maya civilization stretched from the highlands of modern day Guatemala to the hot coastal plain along the Pacific Coast, to the tropical rain forest of the Yucatan Peninsula. Read: These natural barriers helped to protect the Maya civilization for 1300 years. Write: Central America: From Guatemala to the Pacific Coast, to the Yucatan Peninsula. Write: 400 BCE–900 CE = 1300 years! Read:The Maya built temple-pyramids from hand-cut limestone bricks. These buildings were used for important rituals such as sacrifices to the gods. Write:The Maya built templepyramids from hand-cut limestone bricks used for religious practices. Read: An unusual feature of Mayan architecture was a type of arch called a corbel vault. Builders would stack stones so that they gradually angled in towards one another to form a triangular archway. The archway always had nine stone layers, representing the nine layers of the underworld. Write: Mayan used a corbel vault = stacked stones so that they gradually angled in towards one another to form a triangular archway of nine layers. Read: Agriculture was incredibly important to the Maya because their society was dependent on the food provided by farming. If the crops failed, everyone would starve. Crops: The Maya planted corn, beans, squash and chili peppers. Write: Agriculture was incredibly important to the Maya. The Maya planted corn, beans, squash and chili peppers. Read: Problems: The environment that the Maya lived in was not conducive to farming—the land consisted of dense forests, little surface water and poor soil. Read: The Maya responded to these challenges by building terraces in the mountainside to create flat land for planting… Read:…and in the lowlands, they build raised earthplatforms surrounded by water. Write: The Mayan environment was not good for farming. In response, the Mayan cut terraces in hills for flat land to farm on, and built raised earth platforms surrounded by water to farm on. Read: Another technique the Maya utilized to create more crop land was slashand-burn agriculture. This method consisted of clearing land by cutting and burning plants and trees over a piece of land and then using the newly flat land for crops. This method of burning the land also made the soil more fertile. Write: The Maya also created more land through slash and burn = cut down or burn vegetation. Write: The Mayan social system was a hierarchy. The graphic organizer below helps illustrate the different classes within Mayan cities: Ruler Nobles and Priests Merchants and Artisans Peasants Slaves Read: Notice that the Mayan social system is very similar to Feudal Europe’s social system: King Lords of Manors Knights Merchants Serfs Write: The Mayan social system was a hierarchy. Ruler God-King=Ruled the city state with help from advisors—decided when to go to war. Write: Nobles and Priests Nobles served as officials and oversaw administrative tasks such as gathering taxes. Priests performed rituals, offered sacrifices and foretold the future. Write: Merchants and Artisans Merchants and artisans created products for trade with other city-states. Write: Peasants They were the backbone of Mayan society because they grew the crops to feed the people of the city. Write: Slaves Slaves performed manual labor for their owners. Read: Life for Mayan peasant families was difficult. They lived in one-room huts built of interwoven poles that were covered with dried mud, and everyone in the household had work to do. Write: Life for Mayan peasant families was difficult. They lived in one-room huts. Read: Family Duties: The women would cook, clean, keep the fire burning, weave cloth and keep livestock for food. The men would farm the land, hunt animals, and help construct the large temples and palaces for the nobility. Write: Family Duties: Women = cook, clean, keep the fire, weave,and keep livestock for food. Men = farm, hunt, and help construct the large temples and palaces. Read: Special Occasions: The Mayans would celebrate important events in their lives. One of these was when a young girl or boy came of age, and was regarded by the tribe as an adult. This usually occurred at 12 for girls and at 14 for boys. At the coming of age ceremony, a priest would cut off ornaments on the children that were representative or their innocence. Write: Special Occasions: Coming of age ceremony is when a child is now considered an adult. Girls = 12, boys = 14 Read: Special Occasions Continued: The next big event in a Mayan peasant’s life was his or her marriage ceremony. An atanzahab, or matchmaker, would decide who was eligible for marriage and then the parents of the intended would negotiate with one another until they agreed on an appropriate amount of food and clothing that the groom’s family would give the bride’s family. After the marriage, the new couple would move into a hut behind the home of the bride’s family. Write: Mayan marriages were arranged by an atanzahab or a matchmaker. After the wedding, the new couple would live in a hut behind the bride’s family’s hut. Read: The priests, along with the leaders in each city-state, were the most powerful people in the Maya civilization besides the ruler. The Maya believed that their priests could talk to the gods. The priests decided when to plant crops and when people could marry and to whom. Before doing pretty much anything, one had to ask for a priest’s approval. Write: The priests were powerful. People believed that they could talk to the gods. They decided when to plant crops and when people could marry and to whom. Read: The Maya were polytheistic because they believed in many gods. In fact, the Maya believed in 160 gods. They believed these gods controlled every aspect of their lives, and that only the priests were able to decipher the gods’ messages. Write: Maya were polytheistic = they believed in many gods. Over 160! Read: Priests would attempt to appease their gods by performing sacrifices of both non living items, such as plants, food, flowers, jade and shells… …and living items, such as animals and sometimes humans. The people who were sacrificed were usually either slaves or war captives. In Chichen Itza, humans were sacrificed by being thrown into a sacred well. Write: Mayan priests would give sacrifices to the gods of either living or non-living things. Sometimes, they sacrificed humans. Read and Write: Mayan rulers decided when to go to war, and priests would consult their calendars to decide the best days for battle. Read: The Maya were very gifted in the arts. They would paint elaborate murals using colors mixed from minerals and plants to depict nobles, priests, battle scenes, and ceremonies. Read: They also constructed upright stone slabs called steles which stood 5-12 feet high and contained three dimensional carvings of gods and rulers. Read: Plus, the Maya were exceptional weavers. They would create colorful cloths in complex patterns. Write: The Maya painted elaborate murals of important people or events, they carved tall stone steles of rulers and gods, and they wove cloth in intricate patterns. Read: The Maya used hieroglyphics to represent sounds, words and ideas. The Maya created hundreds of glyphs. They would use them to write about rulers, their history, myths and gods, and astronomy. This is the Mayan alphabet. Write: Mayan wrote in hieroglyphics. Read: The Maya made important breakthroughs in astronomy and mathematics. The priests would study the sky from observatories, and from these observations they were able to track the movements of stars and planets with striking accuracy. They used these calculations to create the Mayan calendar, a solar calendar, of 365 days. Read: The Maya used a number system just like ours. However, instead of being based on the number 10, their system was based on 20. So instead of place values for 1s, 10s, and 100s, they had place values for 1s, 20s, and 400s (20 times 20). The Maya also recognized the need for zero—a discovery that few other civilizations made. Write: The Maya were great astronomers. They created the Mayan calendar, a solar calendar, of 365 days. They were also great mathematicians and saw the need for zero. Read: For about 600 years the great cities of the Maya thrived, but then in the space of 50 to 100 years, the civilization that supported these cities fell apart. By 900 c.e., the Maya had abandoned their cities to the jungle. Read and Write: The collapse of the Mayan civilization is one of the great mysteries of Mesoamerican history. There are many theories as to what happened to them, such as overpopulation, bad weather resulting in crop failure and starvation, or uncontrolled warfare. Another possibility is that invaders from central Mexico helped destroy the Mayan city-states. Read: Although the great Mayan cities are ruins today, Mayan culture lives on. About 2 million Maya still live in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Millions more are spread throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and the cities and rural farm communities of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.