Eps 1333: The Mayans' Lost Guide To Land

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Brian Baker

Brian Baker

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The Mayan peoples Yalain Kowoj and Itza remain in the Peten district of Guatemala. Its most important sites include Tayasal, Zacpeten, Qumarkaj, Kiche City and Quiche, where the Mayans Popol Vuh, a fascinating collection of historiography and Mayan mythology, produced.
The Mayan civilization was one of the dominant indigenous societies in Mesoamerica, a term used to describe Mexico and Central America from the 16th century until the Spanish conquest. Mayas from Mexico and Central America inhabited the country which today includes Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, Chiapas, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The descendants of the Maya live in Central America and parts of Mexico.
Unlike the other scattered indigenous communities of Mesoamerica , the Mayan civilization focused on a geographical bloc that included the Yucatan Peninsula and the western parts of Honduras and El Salvador. This concentration shows that the Maya remained relatively safe from invasions by other Mesoamerican peoples. In the early Maya there was only one language, but in the pre-classical period a greater linguistic diversity had developed among the different Mayan peoples.
The Maya refer to people around the world today and their ancestors who built an ancient civilization that spread across much of Central America and reached its peak in the first millennium AD. Mayan civilization was never unified, and it consisted of numerous small states ruled by kings centered in cities. In today's Mexico and Central America alone, about 5 million people speak at least 70 Mayan languages, most of them bilingual with Spanish.
As culture developed advanced irrigation, agriculture, astronomy, construction techniques, and complex social structures, so did the rapid decline of Mayan civilization. Beginning in the eighth century and accelerating in the ninth century, the Mayan cities declined, their people died and withdrew from them. In the nineteenth century, there were only about a dozen large Mayan city-states, and many smaller sites were abandoned.
In the 9th century, the location of the most important Mayan sites changed when they moved into the lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Maya began to build established cities like Chichen Itza, Tula, Uxmal, Edzna and Mayapan. Monumental construction projects created such important Mayan cities as Tikal, Palenque, Copan, Caracol and Calakmul.
Scholars and laymen have presented countless theories and accounts of this, ranging from plausible - overhunting, foreign invasions, peasant uprisings - to absurd - alien invasions and supernatural forces. In his 2005 book Collapse, archaeologist Robert Cialdini put forward a different kind of theory: that prolonged droughts, exacerbated by unwise deforestation, forced Mayan populations to leave their cities. The Maya never disappeared, and their descendants still live in Central America, but over hundreds of years dozens of urban heartlands in the lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula such as Tikal have evolved from bustling cities to abandoned ruins.
The fall of Rome did not mean the end of the Romans, and the decline of large Mayan metropolises like Guatemala's Tikal, which peaked in the ninth century, does not mean that indigenous peoples have disappeared. It is important to note that the Maya are still alive today and can be found all over the world. About 40 percent of Guatemala has 14 million inhabitants, and there are still Maya in southern Mexico and Yucatan Peninsula as well as many Mayan regions. After the Spanish conquest the Maya not only survived for five centuries but also maintained their cultural traditions from agricultural lifestyles to festivals.
The Mayan people are not a single entity, but a single community and ethnic group. They speak many languages, including Mayan, Yucatec, Quiche, Kekchi, Mopan, Spanish and English. The ancient Mayans enjoy a steaming stone sauna known as Tempascal on the Yucatan Peninsula, Tuj Maya language quiche.
The ancient Maya have reached intellectual and artistic heights in the New World like no other, and few in Europe could compete with them at that time, writes Coe. Archaeological records show that Mayan city-states often fell apart during droughts, but some survived and thrived. At the time of their collapse, the Mayans had felled most of the trees on large tracts of land and cleared fields to grow corn to feed their growing population.
Sever and Griffin found crumbling pyramids of steles used by the Mayans to record information, show carved art and other ruins that were hidden for more than 1,000 years hidden, and the expedition relied on NASA remote sensing technology to locate sites of ancient settlements.
The sites are in the central and southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico, including the remains of the important Mayan city of Calakmul, nestled in tropical forests of Tierras Bajas.
The ancient Mayan city and the protected tropical forest of Calakmul Campeche are home to two to three species of primates, two to four teeth, five to six species of wild cats and cats, all of which occur only in Mexico. It has the largest diversity of mammals in the Mayan region. The city's position increases its importance as a hub of connectivity in the Selva-Maya corridor which ensures ecological continuity between the forested regions of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, enables the conservation of biodiversity and the development of dynamic ecological and evolutionary processes between species and provides species that migrated to the region with the opportunity to adapt to climate change.