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Mayan Civilization

Alfred Bowles, Luzan Monayer, Ribal Hajaij

Alfred Bowles

on 5 October 2015

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Transcript of Mayan Civilization

The End of the Mayans
Here and Now
After a large Asian migration came across into Alaska, down through western Canada, southward through the United States (for the Clovis and pre-Clovis people

They did not suddenly appear on the scene from nowhere. Apparently,
they evolved from the older OLMECS
who inhabited the area from perhaps B.C. 1200-900.
How the Mayans Came to be
Maya Civilization
The ancient Maya were a complex and highly skilled civilization who dominated much of Central America. Their lands engulfed present-day southeastern Mexico (specifically in the Yucatan Peninsula), Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. the Mayan Civilization had its beginnings around the year B.C. 2,000. Its earliest origins point to the
Yucatan Peninsula
of present day Mexico. They really began to show advancement around A.D. 250 in Southern Mexico. The era of this sophisticated society spanned more than 3,000 years consisting of three separate periods: the
Pre-Classic Period
ranged from 2000 BC to 250 AD, the
from 250 AD to 900 AD, and
, from about 900 AD to 1500 AD

The Mayans were one of the most intelligent civilizations of their time. Despite the fact that they did not have the tools that are considered essential to produce fine pieces of art, sculpture, and architecture, the ancient Maya were great
artists and architects
.They were experts in various fields, and made discoveries that modern scientists wouldn’t have achieved without their developed technological tools.
The Maya had
no central king
ruling their huge empire. Instead, there were as many as 20 separate areas,
similar to ancient Greece city-states. Each major city had its own ruler and noble class supported by smaller cities and the surrounding farms and villages.
It is quite
how the great Mayans ended. There are several theories on how the classic Mayans came to an end.
Some of the

1. The Mayans have
exhausted their lands
and environment through excessive agricultural actions as well as burning forests with the purpose of providing extra ground for crop growing. It is thought that they have exhausted their lands to the point that it could no longer sustain a very large population.

2. Some
catastrophic environmental change,
like an extremely long, intense period of drought, may have wiped out the Classic Maya civilization.

Some Tribes
survived the classic collapse
and went to form the post-classic Maya period. They were eventually destroyed in the
shortly after
Columbus’ voyages and his attemps to dominate the Americas
. The Spaniards subdued the Mayans and took all their lands through warfare as well as unpurposely bringing European disease to the Americas specifically to the Maya.
The Maya Civilization
Location and Government of Mexico
Southeast portion of North America (Middle America)
For local administration, Mexico is divided into 31 States and 1 Federal District (Mexico City)
Today Mexico is considered a federal republic with a chief of state and a head of government
Both of these positions are filled by the President, currently Enrique Pena Nieto
Flag of Mexico
In the early 1300s, the wandering tribe of Mexican believed that their god,
, would show them a sign - to guide them to their new settlement.

The Mexican people believed that they would see
an eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus
, and that's where they would build their new city.

Mexican people did indeed see the sign - but it was on an
unlikely spot
. A small, swampy island in the middle of Lake Texcoco.

They invented the chinampas system, which allowed them to create small garden islands, which would eventually help to dry out the land. As it dried, they built.
were built across the lake
to allow access to the island

When the Spanish saw this symbol of the empire - an eagle on a cactus,
they misinterpreted the red and blue currents coming from the eagle's mouth
. Someone thought it was a snake, and the symbolism of the eagle and snake stuck.
Alfred Bowles, Luzan Al-Munayer, Ribal Hajaij
Problems in Mexico
Illegal immigration
Powerful drug lords causing a lot of damage to the Mexican society
5% of children under 5 years of age suffering from malnutrition
Mexican workers are mistreated and given low wages
The major problem of poverty is not being fixed due to massive corruption
According to the UNDP 17.6% of mexicans are below the poverty line
Due to the fact that northern Mexico is an official member of NAFTA there's a major gap in development between the northern and the southern part of Mexico leaving the south in extreme poverty
Interesting History
Hernan Cortes Conquers the Aztecs
On November 18, 1519, Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes arrived at the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs believed him to be a god reincarnated and received him warmly. Cortes responded by taking Emperor Moctezuma II captive and eventually destroying their city.

Mexican War of Independence
On September 16, 1810, Miquel Hildago y Costilla led a revolt against the ruling Spaniards. This started the Mexican War of Independence.

Mexican-American War
The countries of the United States and Mexico were at war from 1846 to 1848. The war was caused because of the United State's desire to fulfill "Manifest Destiny" and because of the recent secession of Texas from Mexico.

Cinco De Mayo
On May 5, 1862, the Mexican army defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla. The battle was fought because France had invaded Mexico after Mexico had stopped repaying debts owed. Cinco De Mayo is a celebratory holiday in Mexico and is often confused with Mexican Independence Day.

Mexican Revolution, 1910
The Mexican Revolution of 1910 started after when Francesco I. Madero attempted to overthrow the president, General Diaz, who had been in office continuously since 1884.
Diversity of Population & Spoken Languages
Diversity of Population
60% of the Mexican population can be classified as Mestizos, meaning in modern Mexican usage that they identify fully neither with any indigenous culture nor with a particular non-Mexican heritage.
20% of the country's population are Indigenous people
19% of Mexicans are of European descendent, many of these are the descendants of the Spanish colonial population called criollo mainly in northeastern Mexico, northwestern Mexico and the state of Jalisco.

Spoken Languages
Mexico’s most spoken language is Spanish
Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world
There are 68 other indigenous languages that are recognized as national languages
National Flower of Mexico
Natural Resources
The mining sector of Mexico was dominated by hydrocarbons, with some of the world's largest deposits of
(17th) and
natural gas
(18th). Mexico is also ranked in the top 5 producers of
(13% of world production). Mexico also leads in
bismuth, celestite
mine lead

mine zinc
mine copper
, and
crude steel
Dahlia Pinnata
(Mexican name:
Acoctli/ cocoxochitl
Is the national flower of Mexico.
It exists in all colors except for blue and black.
It is the flower of luck, and was used for food, ceremony, and decorations.
Additionally, It was used to treat epilepsy and Diabeties.
Dahilia Pinnata in Mythology
According to a legend reported by Wells, the Aztec goddess, Serpent Woman, used to visit an eagle to gain knowledge of the sky gods. On one of her visits, she met a rabbit, holding a dahlia with eight red rays in its mouth. The gods told her to pierce the flower with a sharp spike of agave and hold this to her breast all night long. The next morning, she delivered a full-grown son, the War God, Utzilopochtli, who had gained strength for war and thirst for blood from the dahlia.
Scientific Achievements
The Mayans devised a calendar called the long count calendar to last about 5125.36 years which they called the great cycle. The calendar was set to begin on August 13, 3114 B.C. The great cycle ended on December 21, 2012. This was the time when people thought it meant the end of the world, but in fact it was really a time of celebration just as we celebrate New Year’s Eve. Also beyond any imagination, the Mayans predicted that on this date for the first time in 25,800 years, the Sun will align with the center of the galaxy. After that the new great cycle will quietly begin.
The Long Count calendar is divided into five distinct units:
one day - kin
20 days - uinal
360 days - tun
7,200 days - katun
144,000 days - baktun


The end of the great cycle which lasts 13 baktuns and landed on December 21, 2012 was

Alfred's Birthday is
Ribal's Birthday is
Luzan's Birthday is
Today’s date for example is
Alphabet and Numerals
The Maya writing system was made up of 800 glyphs. Some of the glyphs were pictures and
others represented sounds. They chiseled the glyphs into stone and inside codices. Codices were
books that were folded like an accordion. The pages were fig bark covered in white lime and bound
in jaguar skins. The Maya wrote hundreds of these books. They contained information on history, medicine,
astronomy and their religion. The Spanish missionaries burned all but four of these books.
Mayan writing has received official support and promotion by the Mexican government and is taught in universities and public schools in several Mayan-speaking areas.
Individual symbols could represent either a word or a syllable
The Mayans used a positional base-twenty numerical system which only included whole numbers. For simple counting operations, a bar and dot notation was used. The dot represents 1 and the bar represents 5. A shell was used to represent zero. Numbers from 6 to 19 are formed combining bars and dots.
the value of a number depends on its position going from the bottom line upward in the configuration. The initial position has the value represented in the symbol. On the following line, the value of the symbol is multiplied by 20; on the third line from the bottom it's multiplied by 400, and each successive line is growing by powers of 20.
The Mayans were also the first to understand the idea of zero
This pyramid is actually a 3-D calender. It has 91 steps on each side (4x91=364)and the topmost step represents 365th day
Other Scientific Achievements
The ancient Maya were
keen astronomers
, recording and interpreting every aspect of the sky. As they believed that the will and
actions of the Gods could be read in the stars, moon and planets
. The Mayans had developed a close relationship with the moon, the sun, venus and the stars. They considered the
earth as the center of all things and the stars, moons, sun and planets as gods;
thus they used to watch their movements closely, and attach it with important events at the time, like wars.
Astronomy also helped them in the modification of their Calendar.
For such a close observation, they used the
space observatory domes
. Those domes were modified and developed later.
In the field of Astronomy
The design of Rockets
predicted rockets
through their sculpture, a long time before they were implemented through modern science.
Mayan architects were very clever designers. Instead of using other metallic tools, the mayans used
; a volcanic rock of cooled lava, to carve and cut out limestone for the purpose of building pyramids.
The Maya's architecture ranges from small huts, to large houses, to beautiful, elaborate temples.

Temples and pyramids, in particular, were designed in such a way that the
Sun, Moon, stars and planets
would be visible from the top or through certain windows at important times of the year. Maya engineers invented
2100 years before the Europeans.The cement produced by Maya Technicians was fabricated in a similar manner as today’s Portland cement. The Maya used limestone as the raw material and produced a thermodynamic reactor which elevated the temperatures of the timber fuel to 1600 degrees C. This temperature melted the limestone and produced the chemical reaction that converted the raw material into cement.

It is also known as the pyramid of Kukulkan. It was initially built to serve as a temple to the god Kukulkan.
It was built sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries by the Mayans
This pyramid shows the great accuracy in the Maya’s construction.Thus, it is in the exact center of the city “Chichen Itza”.
The “El-Castilio” pyramid
Yaxchilan is an ancient Maya city and is now known to be the city of Chiapas in southern Mexico.
The longest bridge discovered in the ancient world
Yaxchilan had long been known to include an unusual raised terrace beside the river and pier in the river; these structures were long theorized to be the remains of a bridge.
This natural barrier protected the city from invasion from outside forces
A bridge was essential for the inhabitants of the densely populated city to have year-round access to their domain, their agricultural fields and for commerce for the fact that the bridge was impassable from June until January due to heavy rain.
The bridge is said to be destroyed by a natural disaster.
The Maya bridge in Yaxchilan
The art of the Maya, is a reflection of their lifestyle and culture. It was an important trade merchandise. The mayan art was composed of delineation and painting upon paper and plaster, carvings in wood and stone, and clay.
Sculpture: A common form of Maya sculpture was the stela. The Maya somehow transported enormous stones through the jungle from distant quarries, apparently without the aid of either wheeled carts or beasts of burden. Artists then used only rudimentary stone tools to execute the intricate carvings, before raising the ponderous sculptures to their present vertical positions.
Ceramic: Unlike the monuments, whose royal proclamations were intended for public view, the ceramic vessels are often very anecdotal
Painting: The Maya excel in the painting mainly in Ceramics, but the murals both in buildings and in caves, were also important to them, they use several vegetal as well as mineral colorants to perform their masterpieces
People were
buried in tombs accompanied with some of their belongings
such as their jewelry, pottery, or food.
They used to
worship their ancestors
especially in the royal families, because their ancestors were thought to rejoin Gods when they died.
Mayans used to
practice human sacrifices to the gods
. One way of doing this was by ripping out their hearts and leaving them there for offering to the Gods, or by throwing them down a cliff. They used humans as their sacrifices because it was believed that the Gods needed human blood to grow stronger.
Priests and noblemen would willingly
pierce body parts,
usually their tongue, ears or lips and "give" blood to the gods. The more important a person was in their society, the more blood they were expected to give to the God
Another custom that was practiced sometimes was
on more dedicated levels one would practice self-torture daily.
On very big festivals for religious reasons they would have dances,
they dressed up with masks to look like Gods
. Some of the dances were done to insure the success of crops
The Ball Game
Mayans competed against each other through one of the first team sports called the Ball Game. The game was played with a heavy rubber ball which the Mayans made from the rubber tree. Players were only allowed to touch the ball with their hips and elbows. The goal of the game was to eventually score the ball into a hoop high of the side of the court. Given that the players weren't allowed to touch the ball with their hands, usually when the ball was scored, the game would end The winners were usually praised and pampered with food, jewelery and celebrations while the penalty of losing was death. This fit in with the Mayan belief that human sacrifice was necessary for the continued success of the peoples' agriculture, trade, and overall health.
The Mayan God Q'uq'umatz was the
god of wind and rain
; a two headed serpent sky monster that carried the sun across the sky.
Sometimes human faces were represented between his jaws which showed Q'uq'umatz in the act of carrying Hunahpu, the youthful avatar of the sun god Tohil, across the sky.
After midday, Q'uq'umatz continued into the west and descended towards the underworld bearing an older sun.

In the beginning of the Popol Vuh, Q'uq'umatz is depicted as afloat in the primordial sea with Tepeu
Nothing yet existed, only the sea at rest under the sky. Soon Q'uq'umatz and Tepeu discussed the creation of man and it was decided between them to raise the earth and create mankind.
The Gods discussed this and created the mountains, the oceans, and the forests. Then they created the animals and told the animals to praise them, but the animals lacking intelligence couldn't do so. So they then created humans. They first formed men of mud, but in this form man could neither move nor speak and quickly dissolved into nothingness. Later, they created men of sculpted wood, which Huracan destroyed as the wooden manikins were imperfect, emotionless and showed no praise to the gods. The survivors were then transformed into monkeys, and sentenced to live in the wild. Q'uq'umatz and Tepeu were finally successful in their creation by constructing men out of maize.
The Fire Ceremony
It’s one of the
most important
Mayan ceremonies.
The ceremony takes
2-4 hours
, they used to do a lot of decorations for the ceremony.
They believed that they sustain their lives by sustaining Mother Earth through the ceremony.
They believe that
it gives life and energy
to those who take part of it. Some people still practice it nowadays.
In this ceremony, they used
a lot of different natural products
to express their love and respect for their Gods through mother nature. Such products are:
Jams and jellies
: used to represent divine food and symbolic dessert for the gods and are used to give thanks for agricultural production.
Pine needles or branches
: used to represent the sacred napkin upon our table, Mother Earth.
used to develop spiritual balance.
An egg
is used to” saturate” the person (to cleanse and purify by passing the egg over her or his entire body) and remove all negativity.(Tobacco, flowers, rue and cinnamon may be used for the same purpose).
Sesame seeds
(which crackle in the fire) are a form of thanks for our prosperity and are also used in ceremonies where we ask the gods for financial abundance.
with particular divinatory skills
watch the fire
, noting how strongly it blazes and in which direction the flames move. From this, they read signs and omens.
The fire was allowed to burn till the end
. As the fire burns brightly, participants often cast their own offerings into the blaze. These offerings are payment for our personal wrong-doings and misapprehensions about life.
The Mayans were the first to take the seeds of the fruit and roast them to make hot chocolate.
The ancient Maya didn’t make candy bars, nor did they add sugar and milk to the cacao. Instead they took chocolate as a ceremonial elixir, and also as a way to improve their moods.
For the Maya, cacao was a sacred gift of the gods, and cacao beans were used as currency.
Ek Chuah, the Maya god of merchants and trade, was also the patron of the cacao crop.
When the Spanish invaded Maya lands in the 1500s, they adopted the beverage, adding sugar and milk to make it sweet and creamy.
Avocados & Guacamole
The avocado was a treasured crop of the ancient Maya. It was grown in sacred gardens and their ancestors were thought to be reborn through the Avocado tree. Combined with chilis, garlic, cilantro, onions, and lime or lemon, avocados become guacamole, a deluxe appetizer
A very famous traditional Mayan dish. Involves marinating the meat in strongly acidic citrus juice, coloring it with annatto seed, and roasting the meat while it is wrapped in banana leaf. Cochinita means baby pig, and that was the tradition; cooking the Cochinita Pibil with pork.
Cochinita Pibil
Traditional Food
Mayans used to grow corn, because they believed it’s a
sacred plant
and that humans themselves were made from corn dough (called
). The Maya land had a lot of
corn fields
and its location was optimal for corn growing.
Mayan women rise at
dawn to boil and grind corn for the dough
they will cook on a griddle or a skillet over the fire. They cook the tortillas on a
, a big wooden fired iron.
In outdoor markets, you can hear
a rhythmic clapping
as women pat them into shape.
Corn Tortilla
Traditional Clothing
Mayan religion was characterized by the worship of nature gods (especially the gods of sun, rain and corn). It was practiced through
the love of their land, and the development of their scientific fields
for they believed that science and religion are one and the same.
The Ancient Mayans were a very religious people. Mayan actions were based on
rituals and ceremonies.
The Maya had many different god and the
Mayan kings were considered to be direct descendants of the Mayan Gods
. Mayan religion was divided into
three parts
with earth as one part, the level above the earth as another part, and the level below the earth as the third part.
Ix-Chel is the Mayan
goddess of fertility
She was the spouse of Itzamná (the god of creation).

She was also called the
goddess of rain
, because the rain would grow crops and this is a sign of the fertility of the land.

Ix-Chel was also known to be as the
Mayan moon goddess
, because of the moon's association with fertility.

She, together with her spouse ,Itzamná, had thirteen sons, two of whom (probably corresponding to the Howler Monkey Gods) created heaven and earth and all that belongs to it.[9] No other myth figuring Ixchel has been preserved. However, her mythology may once have focused on the sweatbath, the place where Maya mothers were wont to go before and after birthgiving, that's why she was known to be the god of fertility.
Itzamná was one of the most important Gods of In Yucatec Mayan mythology. The ruler of the heavens and of day and night, he was often shown in Mayan art as a pleasant, toothless old man with a large nose.
In various myths, Itzamná appears as a culture hero who gave the Maya the foundations of civilization. According to legend, he taught them to grow corn, to write, to use calendars, and to practice medicine. He also introduced a system for dividing up the land, and he established rituals for religious worship.
He is sometimes depicted as a king, overseeing minor gods. Itzamná was also worshiped as the god of medicine.
Popul Vuh
There is no document of greater importance to the study of the pre-Columbian mythology of America than the Popol Vuh.
Popol Vuh is a group of mytho-historical narratives of the mayan K'iche' kingdom creation myth.
Popol Vuh encompasses a range of subjects that includes creation, ancestry, history, and cosmology.
The catholic church went to great lengths to destroy the culture of the native South Americans. They forbade them writing or speaking their own native tongue. So the origin of the Popul Vuh is lost. We may never unravel and restore what has been lost.
Mayan Myth of Creation
Traditional Wedding Ceremonies
A Mayan wedding is celebrated by a
Mayan Shaman
in Maya.
Prior to the ceremony
the Shaman must determine if the bride and groom
can participate in this sacred ceremony.
The bride and groom are
both dressed in white/off-white
The Mayan Wedding Ritual is based in
the Maya's connection with the universe and their gods.
At the ceremony, there is
traditional offerings to the Gods
- corn, beans, rice, fruit – to
represent the gifts of prosperity and fertility.
The bride and groom wear
no shoes
so they can absorb the energy of the ceremony.
It is suggested that family and guests wear
natural cloth clothing in white or cream
, preferably
, so they can share in the spiritual energy created by the ceremony.
spiritual Mayan Music
is played
using shells
in order to make the participants feel the blessing of nature and the earth.
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