Maya: Old Empire

The Maya Indians had a pictographic form of writing and were advanced in astronomy and arithmetic. The Classic Period of the Old Empire began about A.D. 350 when several city-states grew up. These states may have included about two million persons.

During the 800's, the Maya abandoned the cities, perhaps because the peasants revolted when the priests tried to introduce new religious practices. In the 900's many inhabitants migrated to Yucatan, where a New Empire flourished.

Maya: New Empire

In the 900's, the Maya of Yucatan developed a high culture with Mexican influences. The militaristic city of Chichen Itza ruled much of Yucatan until about 1200 when a warrior named Hunac Ceel led a revolt against Chichen Itza and established a new capital at Mayapan. In 1450 the rulers of Mayapan were defeated and Yucatan split into several groups.

Today more than 1 500 000 descendants of the Maya still live in the area where Maya civilization flourished, mainly in Guatemala and Honduras.