Introduction to Latin American Studies Section 1: The Maya

Latin America consists of Central America, Mexico, and South America; each with a common theme in their histories. They were all explored and conquered by a European nation and this common bond is what unites Latin American people. The Maya 200AD-900AD • The Maya was the only civilization in Middle America that did not exist in 1492 when Spaniards came from Europe. • The Maya are still active today, mainly in the same region. There are nearly 8 million. They have kept some of the same language and religious aspects of the ancient Mayas. The Mayan Empire expanded through what is today the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico all the way down through the Petén region of Guatemala and the northern boarder area of Honduras. The Mayan Empire was divided into city states; each city state had its own government as well as a governor. The 5 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. most important city states are: Chichen Itza (Mexico) Uxmal (Mexico) Palenque (Mexico) Tikal (Guatemala) Copan (Honduras)

The Mayas religious views differed from what most people believe today. The Mayas believed that there were 3 levels of the world; and earthy level (the one we live on), a celestial level (heaven-like), and an underworld. To the Mayas, the celestial level had 13 sub layers and the underworld had 9 layers, each with a chief god with other multiple gods to help rule. This underworld was known as Xibalba. According to the Maya, when a person dies they would first go to the underworld and then depending upon how strong the person was both physical, mentally, and emotionally they would have to fight the gods in order to rise up to the celestial level. The fight was their judgment. Those who did reach the upper most level of the celestial level were the most important. The Maya creation story (The Popol Vuh) states that the gods tried 3 times to make humans. 1. The first humans they made from mud. They could not multiply and spoke only nonsense. 2. The second humans they made from wood, however they had no blood, no sweat, nothing in their minds, they have no respect for the gods, and they did nothing but walk around. After a great hurricane/flood, the animals and their pots and pans start to talk

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back to them and attack them for being abused. Their faces were crushed and their homes destroyed. This is said to be the reason why monkeys look so much like humans. 3. The third humans were made from corn. This people seemed to be perfect because they were made of matter, had thoughts, paid homage to the gods using agriculture and sacrifice. These people are the Mayas. Like many other civilizations, the Mayas wrote text in accordion-like books, however there are very few examples of these because Diego De Landa burned all the books but later wrote a history of the Maya. The Maya were also very skilled in mathematics and astronomy. They had developed calendars as well. • They had 3 calendars o One was since the beginning of time, 3114 BC, cycle of 5200 years  2012. o The second was a 360 day spiritual calendar. o The third was a daily function calendar with 365 days. • They believed that there were 18 months, each with 20 days = 360 days, with leap month for 5 days, occurring yearly. Special Areas in the City States • Chichen Itza o El Castillo  130 ft tall  365 steps  March 21/Sept 21Quetzalcoatl -serpent like sculpture- on the sides of the steps seems to glow. o Ball Court  Largest in Chichen Itza  Blue colored building o Observatory  Predicted circumference of the world within 200 miles  Charted the exact path of Venus (584 days) o Cenote  Underground watering holes provided aquifers.  They would sometimes throw things into these large holes because the believed that they could be the entrance to the underworld. • Uxmal o Pyramid of the Magicians  Extensively featured the rain god Chacc.  Thought honoring the god by adorning most of the buildings with his figure would bring them water.

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o Nunnery Complex  Schooling area o Palace of the Governor  22000 stones  13 doors thought to represent the 13 levels of the celestial world. • Palenque o Main Palace  Also had a watchtower and observatory. o Temple of the Inscriptions  Ruz1952:69 steps, tomb of Pakal  1994: possible wife of Pakal (The Red Queen).

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