Maya Civilization

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The Maya are an indigenous people of Mexico and Central America who have continuously inhabited the lands comprising modern-day Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas in Mexico and southward through Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The designation Maya comes from the ancient Yucatan city of Mayapan, the last capital of a Maya Kingdom in the Post-Classic Period.

More about: Maya Civilization


  • 7000 BCE - 2000 BCE
    The Archaic Period in Mesoamerica during which hunter-gatherer culture moved toward agriculture.
  • c. 2600 BCE
    Mayan Culture buries their dead individually under homes.
  • 1200 BCE - 300 BCE
    The Olmec Period which saw the rise of the Olmec culture's work in stone, first major cities appear.
  • c. 700 BCE
    Tomb of Mayan King K'utz Chman of Retalhuleu constructed in Guatemala.
  • 600 BCE - 800 CE
    The Zapotec Period in which writing, mathematics, and astronomy were disseminated. Calendar developed.
  • 331 BCE
    Traditional founding date of Maya Copán.
  • 200 CE - 900 CE
    The Teotihuacan Period in which the city of Teotihuacan dominates as an important religious and cultural center.
  • 250 CE - 900 CE
    The El Tajin Period, so named for the great city of El Tajin. Urban centers proliferate and the game of Pok-a-Tok is developed.
  • 250 CE - 950 CE
    The Classic Maya Period which saw the height of the Maya Civilization in cities such as Chichen Itza, Palenque, Tikal, Copan and Uxmal.
  • 320 CE
    Traditional Maya founding date of Yaxchilan.
  • 331 CE
    Traditional founding date of Maya Copan.
  • 378 CE
    First contact between Teotihuacan and Tikal.
  • 426 CE - 437 CE
    Reign of the first named Copan ruler K'inich Yax K'uk Mo.
  • c. 580 CE - c. 800 CE
    Maya Yaxchilan flourishes.
  • 615 CE - 683 CE
    Reign of Kinich Janaab Pacal I or Pakal the Great, king of Maya Palenque.
  • 682 CE - 734 CE
    Reign of Jasaw Chan K'awiil at Tikal.
  • c. 700 CE
    The Maya city and temple complex of Chacchoben is built.
  • c. 750 CE - c. 1200 CE
    Chichen Itza flourishes in Yucatan, Mexico.
  • c. 800 CE
    The Maya city of Palenque is abandoned.
  • 850 CE - 925 CE
    Uxmal establishes itself as the capital of the Puuc region of Yucatan.
  • c. 900 CE
    Maya Tikal is definitively abandoned.
  • 950 CE - 1524 CE
    The Post-Classic Period in which the cities were abandoned and the region was invaded by the Spanish conquerors.
  • Jul 1524 CE
    The Battle of Utatlan in which the last Maya resistance is crushed by the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado. Traditional date of the end of the Maya Civilization.
  • 12 Jul 1562 CE
    Diego de Landa, Bishop of the Yucatan, burns the books and images of the Maya outside the church at Mani.
  • 1840 CE
    The Maya civilization is discovered by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood who explore and document the ruins.