The Maya civilization was an ancient Mesoamerican civilization in an area that encompasses modern-day southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador. The earliest villages developed before 2000 BC, and the first Maya cities developed around 750 BC; by 500 BC, these cities possessed monumental architecture. Two hundred years later, the Maya were using Hieroglyphic writing, the most advanced script in the pre-Columbian Americas. Only three of their books of history and ritual knowledge are known for certain to remain. Beginning in the mid third century, the Classic period saw the Maya civilization develop a large number of city-states linked by a complex trade network. In the 9th century, there was a widespread political collapse in the central Maya region. In the 16th century, the Spanish Empire colonised the region; the last Maya city fell in 1697. The Maya developed highly sophisticated artforms, complex calendars, and mathematics that included one of the earliest instances of the explicit zero in the world. Maya architecture included palaces, pyramid-temples, and ceremonial ballcourts. (Full article...)
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