The Mayans: topic summary

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By John Davis

Our handy topic summaries can be used to support homework, as well as providing helpful collections of related resources for teachers to use in school or for parents to use for home learning.

The Mayans

The Mayan civilisation began in about 2000 BCE and became really powerful in the region called Mesoamerica (Middle America), that is the countries now called Mexico and parts of Central America like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Children should be able to locate this region on a world map.

The Mayans were good at farming, produced colourful artwork and pottery and built large and impressive buildings, including palaces and temples, some of them similar to the pyramids of the Ancient Egyptians (although more ‘stepped’ in design). Mayans used writing like hieroglyphs and we have been able to translate their writing to find out about their life. They could count and calculate and were particularly interested in astronomy, charting the phases of the Moon, identifying stars and planets and creating a calendar (not dissimilar to the one that we use today). They were ruled over by kings and most people lived on the edges of large cities in houses made of brick, wood and thatch.

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