In short, what was Mayan civilization?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Mayan civilization was a collection of communities and cities in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico which shared a common language and culture. It first appeared around 300 B.C.E. but evolved into a highly developed culture. Mayan culture practiced a "slash and burn" form of agriculture in which they grew cacao, maize, and cotton. They had a system of hieroglyphic writing and sophisticated knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. They developed a calendar which was in many respects more accurate than the Gregorian calendar now in use in Western societies.  As part of their religious practice, ritual blood-letting was frequent as a means of ensuring a successful harvest.

The Maya were a warlike people who often fought with other people in the area, primarily to take war captives. Captives were frequently tortured and on occasion sacrificed. One could not become a Mayan king until he had captured an enemy in battle. They also engaged in a form of athletics in which the object was to send a rubber ball through a ring without using ones hands. The losing team was often sacrificed after the game.

Among their other unique characteristics, Mayas considered crossed eyes a very desirable trait, and often hung beads over their children's noses in an attempt to create the trait.