What evidence has been used by historians and anthropologists to understand Classic Mayan culture?
The Mayan are possibly the best understood and most well-known classical civilizations in Mesoamerica. Existence of their elaborate architecture, arts, hieroglyphic writing and agricultural practices inform our understanding of their culture.
Developing from small farming communities, the Maya could expand their towns as a result of irrigation systems and agriculture. Increased food production, new trade opportunities and population growth resulted. This expansion required administration, and a government/king were adopted to oversee the population.
Written evidence survives of the advanced astronomical and scientific knowledge of the Maya. Interspersed with the astronomical writings were faith-based astrological predictions and omens. Indeed it is these writings that, often passed from generation to generation, remain important remnants of their culture. Historical events and population governance are all topically covered by these works.