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southern maya area Maya

The ancient Maya were a group of American Indian peoples who lived in southern Mexico, particularly the present-day states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo, and in Belize, Guatemala, and adjacent Honduras. Their descendants, the modern Maya, live in the same regions today, in both highlands and lowlands, from cool highland plains ringed by volcanoes to deep tropical rain forests. Through the region runs a single major river system, the Apasion-Usumacinta and its many tributaries, and only a handful of lesser rivers, the Motagua, Hondo, and Belize among them. The ancestors of the Maya, like those of other New World peoples, crossed the Bearing Land Bridge from Asia more than 20,000 years ago, during the last ice age.
The Maya were the first people of the New World to keep historical records: their written history begins in 50 BC, when they began to inscribe texts on pots, jades, bones, stone monuments, and palace walls. Maya records trace the history of the great kings and queens who ruled from 50 BC until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. All Maya "long count" calendar inscriptions fall between AD 292 and AD 909, roughly defining the period called Classic. Earlier Maya culture is called Formative or Preclassic (2000 BC-AD 300), and subsequent civilization is known as Postclassic (AD 900-conquest).
Protected by difficult terrain and heavy vegetation, the ruins of few ancient Maya cities were known before the 19th century, when explorers and archaeologists began to rediscover them. The age and proliferation of Maya writings have been recognized since about 1900, when the calendrical content of Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions was deciphered and the dates correlated with the Christian calendar. For most of the 20th century, only the extensive calendrical data of Maya inscriptions could be read, and as a result, Maya scholars hypothesized that the inscriptions were pure calendrical records. Because little evidence of warfare had been recognized archaeologically, the Classic Maya were thought of as peaceful timekeepers and skywatchers. Their cities, it was thought, were ceremonial centers for ascetic priests, and their artwork anonymous, without concern for specific individuals.
More recent scholarship changes the picture dramatically. In 1958 Heinrich Berlin demonstrated that certain Maya hieroglyphs, which he called emblem glyphs, contained main signs that varied according to location, indicating dynastic lines or place names. In 1960, Tatiana Proskouriakoff showed that the patterns of dates were markers of the important events in rulers' lives. The chronological record turned out to serve history and the perpetuation of the memory of great nobles. Subsequently, major archaeological discoveries, particularly at PALENQUE and TIKAL, confirmed much of what the writings said, and examination of Maya art has revealed not only historical portraiture but also a pantheon of gods, goddesses, and heroes--in other words, Maya religion and mythic history.
HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT MAYA
By 5000 BC, the Maya had settled along Caribbean and Pacific coasts, forming egalitarian fishing communities. Certainly by 2000 BC the Maya had also moved inland and adopted agriculture for their subsistence. Maize and beans formed the Maya diet then as today, although many other foodstuffs--squash, tomatoes, peppers, fruits, and game--were supplements. The word for maize--wa--is synonymous with food itself, and the maize god was honored from early times.
Preclassic Period
During the Early Preclassic (2000-900 BC), civilization began to take shape in parts of MESOAMERICA. By 1200 BC, the OLMEC of the Gulf Coast had risen to preeminence, dominating trade routes that extended from the modern Mexican state of Guerrero to Costa Rica, passing through Maya regions. At COPAN, Honduras, and Cuello, Belize, around 1000 BC, local Maya leaders began to imitate Olmec styles of pottery and jades and adopted orthodox Olmec religious symbols for their own use. Identification with the dominant cult in Mesoamerica helped support the emergence of social strata among the Maya, particularly where the Maya came into contact with the Olmec.
Archaeologists have recently shown that the Maya began to develop intensive agriculture and sophisticated water management during the Middle Preclassic (900-300 BC), which may have helped support the population explosion of the Late Preclassic (300 BC-AD 300). During this same period, writing was invented in Mesoamerica, probably by the ZAPOTECS of Oaxaca. Although writing was in use along the ... more

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Aztecs
Aztec
The Aztec Indians, who are known for their
domination of southern and central Mexico, ruled between the
14th and 16th centuries.   Their name is derived from
Azatlan, the homeland of the north.   The  Aztecs also call
themselves Mexica and there language came from the Nahuatlan
branch of the Uto-Aztecan family.
The Aztecs were formed after the Toltec civilization
occurred when hundreds of civilians came towards Lake
texcoco.   Late families were unfortunate and were forced to
go to the swamp lands.   In the swamp lands there was only
one piece of land to farm on and it was totally surrounded
by more marshes .    The Aztec families  some how converted
these disadvantages  to a might empire known as they Aztec
Empire.   People say the empire was partially formed by  a
deeply believed legend. As the the legend went it said that
Aztec people would create a empire on in a swampy place
where they would see an eagle eating a snake while perched
on a cactus which is growing out of a rock in the
swamplands.    This is what priests claimed they saw while
entering the new land.
By the year 1325 Their capital city was finished.  
They called it Tenochtitlan.   In the the capital city
aqueducts (piping) were constructed, bridges were built, and
chinapas were made.   Chinapas were little islands formed by
pilled up mud.   On these chinapas Aztecs grew corn, beans,
chili peppers, squash, tomatoes, and tobacco.   Tenochtitlan
(the capital city) was covered in giant religious statues in
order to pay their respects to the gods.   In the Aztec
religion numerous gods controlled an Aztecs daily life.    
Some of these gods include:   Uitzilpochtli (the sun god),
Coyolxauhqui (the moon goddess), Tlaloc (the rain god), and
Quetzalcoatl (the inventor of the calendar and writing).  
Another part of the Aztec religion was human sacrifices.  
For their sacrifices the priest would lay the man or woman
over a convex (rounded) stone, then he would take a sharp
knife and cut the victims heart out.   They did this because
they believed that good gods could prevent bad gods from
doing evil things and they also believed that good gods got
their strength from human blood and hearts so they had
sacrifices in order to keep their gods strong.   For major
rituals warriors were sacrificed, for the warrior this was
one of the greatest honors and for minor rituals prisoners
were used.    In an Aztec marriage the grooms shirt is tied
to the brides dress in order to express there bonding and
after the wedding incents were burned for 4 days before
proceeding with the marriage.
In 1519 Hernando Cortes, a Spanish explorer, led
over 500 men into Aztec territory to search for gold.  
Aztecs thought he was a representative for a certain white
skinned god so they respected him.   It all changed when the
Aztecs saw that Hernando was melting down their golden
statues and shipping them back to Spain. The Aztecs decided
to attack Hernando and his men.   The Aztecs were successful
and drove the Spanish away.   In 1520 the Spanish attacked
the Aztecs capital city and destroyed their civilization.  
That was the end of the Aztecs mighty empire had built so
long ago.



























AZTECS
The Aztecs came from Azatlan which is the mythical place of origin.  Huizilopochtli, the god of war, told the Aztecs to leave Azatlan and wander until they saw an eagle perched on a cactus growing out of a rock and eating a snake.  The Aztecs traveled many years to find the legend and finally found it while at Lake Texcoco.  Lake Texcoco was ruled by the Toltecs between the 10th and 11th centuries. Since many other tribes also migrated to Lake Texcoco at the same time, the Aztecs were pushed out to the westside of the lake to a swampy area.  The only piece of dry land they had was a little island surrounded by marshes.  Over a long period of time they built their empire with chinapas.  Chinapas were formed by piling up mud from the lake bottom to make little islands.  Tenochtitlan (currently Mexico City), which means "Place of the Cactus", became the capital in 1325 and soon there came many islands in which bridges were built to connect ... more

southern maya area

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