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Early Mesoamerican Civilizations

Where is Mesoamerica?
Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, etc.)

Developed around 1200 BC. Known for use of stone in architecture and sculptures. Built first pyramids in the Americas and sculpted huge stone heads out of stone. Settled along the Gulf of Mexico La Venta was a very busy city in Olmec civilization. By about 400 B.C. they had abandoned La Venta and other cities. No one knows for sure why? Polytheistic religion jaguar very important.


Early Mesoamerican Civilizations

Mayan civilization began around 250 A.D. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula and in Southern Mexico and modern day Guatemala. Polytheistic religion Built pyramids and temples. Had a very accurate calender. First people in Americas to create number system using zero (0). 900 A.D. abandoned their cities. Why?

Map of Mayan Civilization


Mayan Calendars
Round Calendar
Recorded the religious year, which had 260 days. Each day had a name associated one of their 20 deities (gods). Mayan priests used this calendar to make predictions for marriages, planting, and other important days.

Solar Calendar
365 days, with 18 months of 20 days. The 5 days leftover at the end of the year were considered unlucky.