Mayan Civilization

RIP 1800 BC - 900 AD


Mayan civilization reached its peak at about 250 to 900 AD, known as the classic period

By 900, the Maya abandoned the Guatemalan lowlands

Spain conquered the ruins in the mid 1500’s

First people's in Western Hemisphere to have an advanced system of writing

Developed the Mayan Calendar

Built their first pyramids between 400 BC to 600 AD

Day 2!

Day Styles/Traditions

  • Paul Kaba is the traditional child naming ceremony, conducted by the local shaman
  • Hetzmek is the ceremony that accepts a child into society. It's held at 3 months (of age) for girls, and 4 months for boys.
  • A women must look down at the ground when passing by a man, and turn her back to him to let him cross
  • Tattoos are given to show marital status
  • An unmarried man is covered in black paint to show that he is unwed
  • Arranged marriages are typically organized when bpth children are young, around 4-5 years old

Dress and Food

  • The farmers grew squash, beans, and corn. Corn was a very important crop and used in almost everything.
  • Mayans practiced terrace farming and had backyard gardens
  • For food, some dishes included modern day tortillas and tamales

  • Clothing manufacturing including spinning cloth by hand and weaving it together with a loom. Everything was done by hand.
  • Women wore more traditional clothing

Working and Education

  • The men and older boys worked in the farms
  • Women took care of the housework (made clothes, finding firewood, cooked meals, making children)

  • There was no evidence of a school system
  • Children were taught to work through an apprentice system

Living Conditions

  • Live in communities organized around central villages
  • When festivals occurs, people may move from smaller farmsteads into vacant houses

Day 3!


  • They were Polytheistic
  • Women place a picture of Ix Chel, the fertility goddess, under their bed and prayed for a healthy child
  • Offered human sacrifices of captured war enemies to please their gods.


  • Thought gods ruled every aspect
  • Group of five nobles, normally brothers, ruled
  • Needed rules to make sure the gods did not destroy the Earth or ever-existing sun
  • Post-classic: nobles, priests, common people, slaves

Judicial Process

  • Hetzmek is the ceremony that accepts a child into society
  • Hetzmek is held at 3 months (of age) for girls, and 4 months for boys

Experiences with Modern Civilization

Conquered by Spain in the mid 1500’s

The Mayans excelling in chronology, which would be adapted into the modern world

Mayan culture is being repressed in some countries. (Guatemala)

Present day Mayans are still polytheistic, or have converted over to Christianity

Presently, people of the past Mayan civilization are struggling to survive.

They live in the mountains and rely on terrace farming for income

Mayan parents are expected to pass down their traditions to children

Some children must go to urban areas for schooling and work

Now, most Mayanindividuals are self ruling.