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The Mayan Civilisation

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Mayan empire expansion
Mayan empire expansion (bigger).
© Encarta


     The mayan civilization spread yesterday from the actual Yucatan (south east from Mexico) to Honduras, going through Guatemala and Belize. At its peak, cities like Tikal (in the Peten), Piedras Negras in Guatemala, or still Palenque and Chichen Itza in Mexico were important centers.


     Today, it's considered the beginning of mayan civilization started around 2600 BC and its peak reached the IIIrd century after BC. Instead of its neighbour, the inca civilization, the mayan civilization didn't built an empire in the way we know it with an only sovereign. In fact, the mayan civilization was divided into many cities, each one governed by its own hierarchy and on a variable territory. The global population has been estimated up to 20 (twenty) millions people. A town such as Tikal counted at least 70 000 souls (oops, was this an heretic word ?). And all those towns didn't speak the same idiom.

     In each part of the mayan society, we find three classes : the nobility, the clergy and the people. The nobility and the preachers live in the city which is the religious center. The people, with a big amount of farmers, used to live around. The economy is based on agriculture. And because of the need of new grounds, the Mayan cleaned a lot. However, they use make grow corn, coton and cocoa. This last one was so important that it was used as an exchange unit, like money. Cocao's fruit and seeds
Cocao's fruit and seeds

Statue      Because of the important work required for buildings, it supposed Mayan had slaves made of prisonners (battles between cities were usual) and helped by farmers too. And by extension, it's not excluded there were architects and other kind of specialists.

«-- Can you see the precision of the sculpture.

     Thanks to archaelogical studies (such as ground analysis), it had been demonstrated the Mayan's fall was because of many factors. The Empire's climate is tropical. And, however the underground is permeable. So, cultures need water. The mayan ingeneers imagined technics to keep it during dry seasons. Those are about seven months. And corn need a lot of water. Corn plants
Corn plants

Undecorated rocks
Undecorated rocks, used now to build walls.
     At the ninth century, the region started suffering of a long dryness. Food become rare, cities entered at war. The Empire had been going down, inexorably. Knowledge was forgotten. When the Spanish arrived in the mayan empire, they met indigenes, ignorant about the ancestral knowledge.