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Paleo Slide Set: Climate and the Classic Maya Civilization
Map of the Maya Area and its boundaries, from Coe, 1987
The Maya civilization is one of the best-known ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica. The Maya originated around 2600 BC in the Yucatan peninsula and rose to a cultural and geographical prominence in the classic period (250-900 A.D.) when they occupied present-day Chiapas, Guatemala, Belize, Southern Mexico and Western Honduras. By utilizing ideas and tools of neighboring civilizations such as the Olmec, the Maya were able to develop sophisticated concepts in the disciplines of astronomy and mathematics. They used this knowledge to construct a calendrical system and were one of the first civilizations in the world to implement the mathematical concept of zero. The Maya developed a written language through the use of hieroglyphics and were known for their ceremonial architecture that included temple-pyramids and residential palaces. The Maya were also skilled farmers, potters, and weavers trading and distributing goods with distant peoples.

Photo Credits:
Dave. A. Hodell
Department of Geology, University of Florida
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