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Name: edHelper

Maya 101

Once upon a time, there was a group of people called the Mayas. The Mayas had an
amazing culture. Back in their heyday, they controlled a large part of Central
America. Their lands included present-day Belize and Guatemala. It covered a
portion of Mexico, too.

The Mayas began to move into Central America as early as 1500 B.C. At first, they
only had small villages. But over time, they started to build big cities. A Mayan city
was like a small kingdom. Because it had its own rulers, we call it a city-state. Every
Mayan city-state shared the same religion. Its people used the same written language.
They followed the same calendars. And they designed their city-states the same way.
For example, a typical Mayan city-state would have at least one plaza, one temple,
and one ball court. Most of the buildings were made out of stones. Some of them even looked like pyramids!

Often times, the Mayas from different city-states would trade with each other. But their main activity was still
farming. The Mayas grew a lot of things, like corn, beans, and squash. They liked to use a farming technique called
"slash-and-burn." This involved cutting down all the trees in a field and setting them on fire. Once the area was
cleared, the Mayas then planted their crops. When using this method, they usually would not bother digging canals
for irrigation. They would simply let nature take care of everything.

The Mayas were very sophisticated people. They used picture-like symbols to record their thoughts and
discoveries. Through their writings, we knew that they were fond of mathematics. We learned that they loved to
observe the night sky. And we understood that they created at least two different kinds of calendars to keep track of
their days. The first type of calendar had 260 days a year. It was mainly used for religious purposes. The second
one had 365 days a year. It was made for planning agricultural activities.

The Mayan culture flourished between 250 A.D. and 900 A.D. But after that, it started to decline slowly and
steadily. With more and more people moving away, most cities became abandoned. Eventually, the Mayan culture
ceased to exist altogether. We are not exactly sure why the Mayas moved away. Was it because of not enough
food? Or was it because of wars between city-states? Whatever the real reason was, it was lost in history. Perhaps
one day, you could unlock the secret and solve the mystery!
Name: edHelper

Maya 101

Questions
1. Where was the Mayan culture?
A. in South America
B. in Africa
C. in Central America
D. in North America

2. Which of the following about the Mayan culture is correct?


A. It flourished between 250 B.C. and 900 A.D.
B. Its main activity was farming.
C. It controlled a large area in South America.
D. It did not have a written language.

3. Which of the following present-day countries was NOT part of the lands controlled by the Mayas?
A. Guatemala
B. Belize
C. Mexico
D. Brazil

4. Suppose you were a Maya. Which calendar would you use if you wanted to arrange a festival for the gods?
A. the calendar with 365 days a year
B. the calendar with 260 days a year

5. For how long did the Mayan culture flourish?


A. 900 years
B. 2,500 years
C. 650 years
D. 250 years

6. What is "slash-and-burn"?
A. It is a type of weapon.
B. It is a type of urban design.
C. It is an agricultural method.
D. It is a hunting technique.

7. What kind of written languages did the Mayas use?


A. They used an alphabet.
B. They had picture-like symbols.

8. What would be the biggest difference between any two Mayan city-states?
A. They would have different leaders.
B. They would plant different crops.
C. They would design their temples differently.
D. One would have a ball court, but the others would not.
Name: edHelper

Use your imagination and think of a reason why the Mayan culture disappeared.

Don't stop writing. Use a blank piece of paper to continue.