MAYA

The Maya lived in Central America and were powerful from around AD 250 to 900. Farmers and traders, they built spectacular cities and developed a system of writing that used picture symbols called GLYPHS.

WHO RULED MAYAN KINGDOMS?

The Maya were divided into kingdoms, each of which had a city and a ruler, who acted as war leader, lawmaker, and chief priest. After 900 Mayan civilization declined, possibly because their farming methods led to exhausted fields and failing crops.

WHY DID THE MAYA BUILD PYRAMIDS?

Pyramids were the largest buildings in Mayan cities and were built as temples and royal tombs. Shrines where sacrifices were made to the gods were at the top, while burial chambers were hidden deep inside. The pyramids were built of stone, and covered with red-painted plaster, but this plaster has not survived.

MAYAN GLYPHS

Mayan glyphs were painted on walls and pots, and carved into pieces of jade and monuments of stone. They were also written into books called codices, which were made out of long strips of bark paper that folded up like screens. This complex writing system was controlled by scribes of very high rank.

WHEN WAS THE RIDDLE OF THE GLYPHS SOLVED?

The study of Mayan hieroglyphs began 200 years ago. By the 1950s, scholars had worked out the glyphs for the names of rulers and animals. Then, in 1960, it became clear that most Mayan inscriptions are historical. They record important events, such as the births, marriages and deaths, and the victories in battle, of the godlike Mayan kings.

FIND OUT MORE

Aztecs
Conquistadors
Incas

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

highlights

Bug Off! 6 Tick- and Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Which bug bites are dangerous? Learn about 6 diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes, the signs and symptoms, and treatment options if someone in your family gets infected.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Top 10 Backyard Party Games for All Ages
Looking for some fun outdoor games for your Fourth of July party or barbecue? Check out these awesome group games, from sack races to cornhole, to make your backyard a kid-friendly party spot!

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks