Maya Civilization – Rise, Cultural Achievements, Decline
In the II millennium BC – the middle of the II millennium AD, the Maya civilization existed on the territory of Mesoamerica. In the history of this group of peoples, a number of periods are distinguished, one of which, the classical one, covers approximately 250–900 BC. This is the time when the Maya saw the flourishing of art and sciences: astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and their own elements appeared in architecture (El Peten style).
The peak of this rise occurred between the 600–800 years. Majestic temples-pyramids, mysterious hieroglyphs, bas-reliefs, and skillfully painted ceramics that have been discovered over the past few centuries belong to this time.
From a political point of view, the late classical period was characterized by the emergence of numerous city-states with their own ruling dynasties, which participated in fierce military conflicts among themselves. In the 9th-10th century, the Maya civilization fell into decline.
Architectural styles – Puuc
One of the main styles of Maya architecture is called Puuc, named after the eponymous hills, which are located in the southwest of Yucatan. It was there that archaeologists discovered the most striking monuments built in this style.
Its distinctive feature is the variety of facade decorations, for example, decorated friezes with geometric patterns, symbols of snakes, huts, and deities.
Temples built in the Puuc style resemble palaces with many rooms. In addition, it is also characterized by the dominance of horizontal lines over vertical ones and walls built from well-cut and fitted stones. Similar architecture was discovered by scientists during the study of the cities of Uxmal, Labna, Kabah, Edzna, and others.
Archaeologists discovered a new Maya city – Xiol
Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico (INAH) announced the discovery of the ruins of an ancient Maya city. It was found back in 2015 during construction work near the city of Merida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan. The lost city was named Xiol.
During the excavations, archaeologists discovered the remains of several squares, pyramids, and palaces. According to scientists, the architecture of this monument shows features of the Puuc style, which, although common in the south of the Yucatan Peninsula, is rarely found in the vicinity of Merida.
Among other finds were stone-carved heads, stone altars, and a cenote, which was probably used for ritual offerings to the gods. Excavation leader Carlos Peraza estimates that more than four thousand people could have lived in this city, which existed around 600-900 AD.
Archaeologists also found burials for children and adults, which contained accompanying inventory – tools made of obsidian and flint, jewelry, and other offerings. In addition, during the excavations, the researchers found the remains of marine fauna – evidence that the inhabitants of Xiol ate not only agricultural products, but also fish.
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• CBC News. (2022, May 27). Construction unearths ancient mayan ruins on Yucatan Peninsula.
• The Guardian. (2022, May 27). Archaeologists discover ancient mayan city at Mexico Construction Site.
• HeritageDaily. (2022, May 27). Lost Maya City discovered in the Yucatan.