The Maya Civilization

The early Maya Civilization are responsible for an enviable list of historical achievements. The great cultural group are perhaps best known however, for their impressive and commanding architecture. Many Mayan ruins remain in the landscape of modern day Mexico.

The villages, cities and pyramids have now become popular tourist hot spots. Unlike many of the other advanced Mesoamerican civilizations though, they have never disappeared, there are significant populations and cultural communities in various areas of Mexico today.

The existing Mayan communities in Mexican culture live by distinct religious traditions and beliefs. There are also a variety of traditional Mayan languages (many of which are still regularly spoken).

Early Maya Civilization Architecture

The Development of Mayan History

The early Maya civilization developed significantly between the years of 250AD to 900AD. They implemented a developed written language form and made key advancements in mathematics.

Because of the close interaction between many of the Mesoamerican civilizations it is hard to pinpoint exactly who implemented specific strategies and ideas. The early Mayan population however did made progress with the development of the Mesoamerican calendar which would later be further enhanced by the progression of Aztec History.

During the Pre-classic period it is thought that areas were initially populated as far back as the 10th century BC. It was during the Classic period of 250-900 AD however that Mayan art developed and the community advanced intellectually and artistically. During this time the people built cities and a strong infrastructure based around agriculture and trade.

Mayan Pillars at Chichen Itza

Population Changes Throughout Time

During the progression of Mexican history within the 9th and 10th centuries the population of Mayan culture decreased. We can only speculate however as to the reasons and factors why this decrease occurred.

The progress of the Maya civilization again began to flourish though, in the Post-classic period between the 10th and 16th centuries.

During this time the communities developed many sites in the Yucatan Peninsula and constructed iconic structures at Chichen Itza and Tulum. After Hernan Cortez and the Spanish arrived in Mexico however a series of hostilities and battles ensued.

Mayan Mura

Pyramids and Architecture

It was common practice throughout for the people at the time to build and then rebuild upon their architectural structures. The pyramids and towering religious temples were of high importance to the Maya civilization.

The rebuilding work
created a fusion of styles and a layered effect
which is evident amongst many of the archaeological sites today.

It is open to debate as to when the rebuilds took place. Some would argue that they occured at set times according to the Mesoamerican calendar cycle. Others believe that the improvements were ordered when new rulers came into power.

Like the Aztecs, the Maya practiced extreme religious customs in accordance with their beliefs. It is thought that the early Maya civilization deemed there to be three main sections to the Universe; the earth, the underworld below and the heavens above. They also believed that the underworld could be reached through deep underground tunnels and caves.

Return to Riviera Maya Holidays

Related Pages


Pyrmaid at Muyil

Maya Pyramids

Mayan Pyramid

Aztec History

Small Close-Up image of Aztec Calendar

Mexico Flag

The flag of Mexico

Mexican Language

Close-up image of Cultural Crafts

Facts about Mexico

Craft Plates in Mexico

Mexican Religion

Close-Up View of Church in Mexico