The Ancient Maya Essay Research Paper The

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The Ancient Maya Essay, Research Paper The Maya of Mesoamerica, along with the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru, made up the high civilizations of the American Indians at the time of the Spanish conquest. Both the Aztecs and the Incas were late civilizations, between 1300-1533 AD, but the Maya of the Yucatan and Guatemala exhibited a cultural continuity spanning more than 2,000 years, 1000 BC-AD 1542. Many aspects of this culture continue yet today. The Ancient Maya in their time had actually refined writing. They had an extensive written language, which was both phonetic as well as ideographic. One of only five independently created writing systems in human history. Maya words were in hieroglyphs, each picture with its own meaning. Unlike other ancient Central American

civilizations, the Maya could write in words, sentences, and even stories. Arranging several pictures together in a logical form would create a story. The Maya covered their cities and buildings with hieroglyphs carved into the stone. Most of the Maya could read some hieroglyphs, but the priests and nobles were the only people who actually had knowledge of the entire language. The Maya would also use quills made of turkey feathers to write in books made of soft bark taken from a type of fig tree. Religion was the center of the Mayan life. Mayans believed that there were two levels of the world. The first level was the physical world and the second was the spiritual world, which consisted of the old dead ancestors, gods, and other supernatural creatures. The Mayan kings and

spiritual leaders would tell the lower levels of the society what would please the gods. The gods were modeled after animals for sacrificial purposes and religious ceremonies. The ancient Maya had many beliefs. They had possessed an in depth understanding of astronomy, engineering, and mathematics. The Maya believed that the Sun, Moon, and other planets, had been journeys of the gods. The Mayan priests studied their measurement of time. The Maya had a calendar with 18 months each containing 20 days, plus 5 unlucky days that made up the Mayan year. They also had a religious calendar that had 260 days in it. Each day was given a name and a number. They believed that each day was a god that carried the weight of the day on its back. The Mayan civilization in all stages has been

based on agriculture. Indian corn or maize was domesticated from a wild grass in central Mexico about 7,000 years ago and sustained most sedentary Indian civilizations from that time. In the humid areas, a surplus of water and rapid growth of trees and vines encouraged the slash-and-burn farming method. The farmer cleared the cornfield by cutting bushes and girdling the trees, usually near the end of the rainy season, allowing the piled brush to dry under the hot sun of the dry season. It is known that the Mayas enjoyed chocolate. They had it in many forms from a frothy drink to a pulpy mush. The Mayas referred to chocolate as "The Drink of the Gods." They had other food such as cornmeal, maize, black beans, roasted meat, rabbit stew, turkey and other meats. Many people

chewed of the leaves of the sapodilla tree as a gum-like substance. The Mayan culture had many arts, such as dance, music and clothing. They had more than 5,000 dances and loved music. Dancing was a huge part of religious ceremonies. Musicians played wooden flutes and trumpets made of wood, seashells, or clay, and drums made from turtle shells. For clothing the men would have worn an ex (pronounced eh-sh) which is a loincloth. The women would wear loose sack-like dresses. The clothes of the nobles and priests were made up of finer materials and had many shells and beads on them. For ceremonies they would wear beautiful headdresses for religious purposes. As for beauty, the Mayans had a sense of beauty that would be seen as hideous in our present society. They practiced skull