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The Mayans were a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for Maya script, the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems.
See the fact file below for more information on the Ancient Mayan or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Ancient Mayan worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ORIGINS AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
- The Ancient Mayans lived in the Yucatán around 2600 B.C. Today, this area is southern Mexico, Guatemala, northern Belize and western Honduras. By 250 A.D., the Ancient Mayans were at their peak power.
- The Mayans were the indigenous people of Mexico and Central America. The term Maya came from the ancient Yucatan city of Mayapan, the capital of the last Mayan Kingdom.
- Between 250 and 950 CE came to be known as the Classic Maya Period which saw the emergence of the great cities of the Yucatec Maya.
- It was in this period that saw the height of the Mayan civilization when mathematics, astronomy, architecture, and visual arts flourished.
- During the Post-Classic Period, great Mayan cities were abandoned, which were later re-populated by a new tribe in the region, the Toltecs.
- In 1524, Quiche Maya were defeated at the Battle of Utatlan which ended the great civilization.
- The Maya had no central king ruling their huge empire. Instead, there were as many as 20 separate areas, similar to ancient Greek city-states. Each major city had its own ruler and noble class supported by smaller cities and the surrounding farms and villages.
MAYA CULTURE AND ACHIEVEMENTS
- The Ancient Mayans developed the science of astronomy, calendar systems, and hieroglyphic writing. They were also known for creating elaborate ceremonial architecture, such as pyramids, temples, palaces, and observatories. These structures were all built without metal tools.
- The Maya were skilled weavers and potters. They also cleared routes through jungles and swamps to create trade routes. This allowed them to sell and trade the goods they had made for goods they needed.
- The Mayan writing system was made up of 800 glyphs. Some of the glyphs were pictures and others represented sounds. They chiseled the glyphs into stone and inside codices.
- Codices were books that were folded like an accordion. The pages were fig bark covered in white lime and bound in jaguar skins. The Mayans wrote hundreds of these books. They contained information on history, medicine, astronomy, and their religion. The Spanish missionaries burned all but four of these books.
- The Ancient Mayans were a very religious people. Mayan actions were based on rituals and ceremonies. The Mayans had many different gods. They also had rituals. One of those rituals was human sacrifice.
- The Mayan Kings were considered to be direct descendants of the Mayan Gods. Mayan religion was divided into three parts with earth as one part, the level above the earth as another part, and the level below the earth as the third part. The level above the earth was like the Christian heaven and the level below the earth was like the Christian hell.
- The Mayan people were also skilled farmers. In order to farm, they had to clear huge sections of tropical rainforest. Groundwater was scarce in these areas, so they had to build large underground reservoirs to store the rainwater.
- The Ancient Mayans had a class society. At the top were the nobles and priests. Their middle class was made up of warriors, craftsmen, and traders. The farmers, workers and slaves were at the bottom.
- The Mayans wove beautiful fabrics and designed musical instruments like horns, drums, and castanets. They also carved huge statues. Archaeologists can tell a great deal about the ancient Maya from their wonderful pottery and clay figures. The art they created honored their leaders, gods, and their daily life.
THE SPANISH CONQUEST AND END OF CIVILIZATION
- In 1521, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortes conquered the Aztecs. At the same time, he learned about the city of Mayapan in the Yucatan peninsula and sent Pedro de Alvarado. Just like Cortes, Alvado subdued one city-state after another.
- Along with the Spanish conquest was the spread of European diseases, including measles and smallpox, which was believed to have diminished the Mayan population.
- As described in the accounts of friar Bartolome de Las Casas, the Mayan people, along with other native subjects of the Spanish rule, were enslaved. Lands were grabbed and divided among Spanish bureaucrats.
- The decline of the Mayan civilization remains mysterious. By 900 A.D., cities located in the southern lowlands were empty. Many scholars posed different theories behind this abandonment.
- Some believed that the Mayans exhausted their natural resources to the point that it could no longer support the population.
- Others conclude that inter city-state competition as well as trade-alliances contributed to the decline of the traditional system of dynastic power.
- Among the most popular theories was the catastrophic environmental change, specifically long droughts.
Ancient Mayan Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Ancient Mayan across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Ancient Mayan worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Mayans which were a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for Maya script, the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Ancient Mayan
- Mapping the Mayan
- Mayan Legacy
- Acrostic Poem
- Mayan Crossword
- Based on Religion
- Myth or Legit
- Legends of Collapse
- Weirdly Noble
- Mayan Gods
- Mayan Archeology
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Link will appear as Ancient Mayan Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 8, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.