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 The Mayans part 1

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PostSubject: The Mayans part 1   Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:46 pm

Most people associate the Mayan People with the Mayan Calendar and 2012, but there is much more to learn about these fascinating people
They developed astronomy, calendar systems and writing. They built elaborate pyramids and observatories, all without metal tools. They were highly skilled as potters and weavers their centres began to decline around AD 900, for reasons still unknown. Some of the centres continued until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Scholars agree the Maya were the most advanced of all ancient Mesoamerican cultures The Maya originated in Yucatan in Mexico, the area around the resort beach city of Cancun is today.
The ancient Maya established their cities in the rainforest, played games that went on for days, and are famous for their knowledge of the stars. The idea of time fascinated them. They chewed gum, filed their teeth and raised bees without stingers. Like the Egyptians, they built pyramids, often elaborately adorned with murals and elaborate architectural details.

The Maya developed writing using pictures or drawings called pictographs. Each picture had its own meaning. The Maya could write in full sentences and even stories. A story was made by drawing several pictures together; they covered their cities and buildings with hieroglyphs carved into the stone.
Most Mayas could read some hieroglyphs. But priests and nobles were probably the only people who knew the entire language. The Maya carved these symbols into stone, and made books from tree bark, they would take one strip of bark and fold it over and over to make pages, these books were wrapped with wood and hide.

The books are called codices, codex is singular, the Maya would write with quills made from turkey feathers. When the Spanish came, they burned many books. Only four remain today. It probably took several weeks or more to write each codex.
Each image was first outlined with black ink made of a coal base. The first drawing was done with a tool made from the thorns of the maguey cactus or from chips and bones of small animals including birds. Brushes were made of animal hair.

Using colour to illustrate the codices was not done just for looks. Colours and shades of colours meant a lot The Maya gave a special meaning to each colour, which they related with gods, nature and the sky.
People thought the writers were in touch with the gods. The codices were considered sacred. The books were kept in special rooms inside temples and important buildings.

The Maya Calendar year has a basic unit called Kin, a word that means day or sun. The Tzolkin calendar has a cycle of 20 day names combined with a cycle of 13 day numbers. Each of these 20 names has a glyph to represent it. To measure passages of time, priests studied the sun, the moon, and Venus.

Mayas had a calendar with 18 months with 20 days, plus 5 unlucky days which made up the days in a year. The Mayas also had a religious calendar which had 260 days in it. Each day was given a name and a number. There is much written about their calendars which is very complex and would need a post on that alone, this is just a brief description of their beliefs, in the hopes that we may understand them a little more than the one calendar, the last calendar that was written which is used to instil propaganda about 2012 being the end of the world.

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The Mayans part 1
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