Ancient tribe Maya
The original home of the Maya was in northern Mexico, from where they moved south in prehistoric times. This migratory movement was triggered by the settlement push of the Uto-Aztecs, who began around 2500 BC to push south from the region in the southwest of today's USA. This southern movement affected all sedentary populations in northern Mexico. The Maya found a new home in the highlands of Guatemala. From there they later migrated to the lowlands and settled the entire Yucatan Peninsula. Continuity of settlement in this region can be proven since the early 2nd millennium BC.
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In their heyday, the Maya represented a powerful high culture. Mostly one speaks of a Mayan culture; in fact there are many similarities between the different sites from the past - but behind this culture stand different peoples with more or less closely related Mayan languages.
The cultural development of some regional Maya populations reached civilizing levels already in pre-Christian times. The Maya population received important initial impulses for the development of an advanced civilization through the influence of the Olmec civilization, which provided the successor cultures with specialized and refined cultural technologies. These include monumental architecture (including pyramid construction), developed techniques of ceramics production, sculpture and stone carving (e.g. jade), calendaring and the use of writing.
The Maya are famous for growing corn, their mathematics and for their sophisticated calendar, written in Mayan script. This script, which is now largely deciphered, was the only known fully developed writing medium in America until the arrival of the Spanish. Handicrafts (working with stone, ceramics, wood, textiles) and painting were highly developed, metalwork (gold, silver, copper) played a role only late and almost only for ritual purposes, not for tool making. In the cities there were step pyramids up to 75 m high, Maya acropolis, palaces, observatories and ball courts.
The collapse of Mayan society in the 9th/10th century is the subject of a broad and long-lasting research discussion.
Contrary to widespread belief, the Mayan people did not perish: Although the pre-Columbian Mayan elite was exterminated by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, the majority of the Mayan population survived as work slaves of the big landowners. Today's Maya, however, no longer form a political unit.
Today, around 6.1 million Maya live in Mexico (in the Yucatán, Chiapas and Tabasco) as well as in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, although the Pocomam and Chortí, who originally lived in El Savador, were exterminated in the 20th century in their own culture and language as a result of violent state oppression. Today's Maya religion is a mixture of Christianity and ancient Maya traditions.
Genetic indigenous peoples by iGENEA
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