Mayan Indians and Their Culture

Published on September 13, 2011 by Amy

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Portrait of a Mayan Indian
Portrait of a Mayan Indian

Mayan Indians are the people that inhabit the regions of southern Mexico and northern Central America. Although many people think of the Mayans as an ancient civilization, there are currently about six million Mayan Indians still living in this area. Many live moderns lives, but some still lead a more distinctly Mayan lifestyle including speaking one of the Mayan languages as their primary language.

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The Mayan Indians are part of a well-known civilization that dates back to 1000 BC. Archaeologists believe it was during the mid-Preclassic period, around 600 BC, when some of the earliest known Maya complexes were constructed. The Mayans were also known for their writings and calendar.

The Mayan calendar tracked phenomena like the solar year, the lunar year and the synodic period of Venus. Their calendar may have been a product of their religion as their rituals and ceremonies were both associate with celestial cycles. It was the shaman of the tribe that interpreted the cycles and sacrifices would be performed if he said bad times were coming.

Between 200 and 900 AD, the Mayan Indians were making some of the most beautiful art in the world. Carvings and stucco reliefs as well as statues show the human form in a very graceful and accurate way. Their architecture is also viewed as an art form. It spans thousands of years and there is still many examples of their architecture left such as the Mayan pyramid at Chichen-Itza, the most important capital of the Mayan civilization around 900 AD. They also had other magnificent cities such as Tikal and Uxmal that were all cultural centers.

In the city of Copan, there was a tomb recently discovered of one of the Mayan Indian ancient rulers. Most Mayan cities also contained a ball court – a grand court for the ball game they loved to play.

No one is sure what caused the ultimate collapse of the Mayan Indian civilization, but theories include several things such as a social uproar, hunger and war.

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