The Mayan Civilization

The Mayan Civilization

The Mayans are an interesting people. Known for their complex calendars, their ridiculous
tendency to put hieroglyphs on virtually anything, and for their mysterious disappearance in
the 9th century, they have left plenty of history for archeologists to uncover. If you’re new here, I’m Darius Cosden
and this is Vlogs of Knowledge. Make sure to subscribe and hit the notification
bell because we do have brand new episodes every single Wednesday. And today, we’re talking about the Mayan
Civilization. Now, I’m going to assume that you’ve all heard of the Mayan Civilization. I think we can all remember when the world
was supposed to end on December 21st, 2012. That came directly from the Mayan Calendar,
because it was on that date that the calendar stopped. However, you have to be careful not to confuse
the Mayans with the Aztecs, or the Incas, both of which are totally different civilizations
that not only lived in a different location, but also in a different time period. The Incas came much later in the 13th century
AD in modern day Peru, and the Aztecs around the same time in modern day Mexico. The Mayans however, are said to have been
the biggest and most influential civilizations in what historians now call “Mesoamerica”. Mesoamerica is a simple way to define the
Americas before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. And this Spanish conquest is very important. But we’ll talk more about that later. Let’s start first with location. The Mayans were largely centred in the Yutacan
peninsula, part of modern-day Mexico, as well as parts of Guatemala and Belize. The tropical location allowed for agriculture
to develop, most notably the growing of many crops such as maize, beans and other vegetables,
and for rivers to form, which was crucial in allowing transportation by canoe later
on. Mayan history dates back to somewhere between
the year 8000 BC and 2000 BC, which historians have now called the Archaic Period. During this time a group of hunter-gatherer
people began to settle down, to develop agriculture and to domesticate animals. This radical shift in lifestyle gave rise
to the very first villages and settlements of the then-Mayan civilization. These small tribes of nomads wandering around
from location to location had finally learnt the art of settling down, planting a crop
and waiting for the harvest. Towards the end of the Archaic Period, you
had small local villages start to pop up around the territory. They included sacred spots and temples dedicated
to the various gods of the time. Keep in mind that there is nothing particularly
interesting or remarcable from the Mayans from this time. They were, just like their neighbours across
the ocean, in the process of developing their culture into what was later to become a fully-grown
civilization. What follows is the next period in Mayan history:
the Pre-Classical Period. While they were already settled, cultivating
their crops and living in small villages, another civilization was rising to the west:
the Olmecs. The Olmecs settled along the Gulf of Mexico
and began building great cities of stone and brick. Not only did they build great cities, but
they were also one of the first in Mesoamerica to create sculptures, which we now refer to
as the “Olmec heads”. These pieces of art suggest a highly sophisticated
skill in sculpture and even point us to the first indications of shamanic religious practices. But they also posed a very interesting question
to modern day archeologists. Why are these sculptures so big? I mean look at them, they’re huge! Since they were so big, at first, we thought
that these Olmecs might be giants. I mean it’s a good guess, but later on we
discovered that they were not. The Olmecs are an interesting civilization
because no one knows where they came from, nor what happened to them. The evidence doesn’t really allow us to be fully
conclusive, but the Olmecs are believed to have brought forth many traditions and rituals
that would dominate the later cultures of Mesoamerica. They are believed to have been the first in
the Western hemisphere to develop writing, to perform human sacrifices with human blood,
to develop the “long-count calendar”, which we’ll talk about later, and to play
the “Mesoamerican ballgame” that we found to be a central aspect of Mayan culture. That game, that the Mayans called “Pok-A-Tok”, was a central part in their culture. I mean this wasn’t just a game that people played for fun recreationally. This was a game that had serious religious
implications that often ended up in people dying as a result of the score in the game. Allow me to explain. You can think of it like soccer. You have two teams, a rubber ball, and a sort
of net. Now this net, is a little different. It was more like a basketball hoop, attached maybe on a wall somewhere. The net could be as high up as 20 feet and
the goal was to get the rubber ball through the net. Now here’s the catch. You weren’t allowed to use your hands, nor
your feet, which as you can imagine, made it extremely difficult to score a goal. As a result, games would often go on for days
and as soon as one person scored, it was considered the end of the game and that his team had
won. Now I said that the game involved sacrifice. Historians are still unsure of who was actually
being sacrificed, whether it be the captain of the losing team, or the captain of the
winning team, or sometimes even the entire team, whether it be the winners or losers, but at least they can at least all agree that
usually, somebody was killed at the end of the game. This game represented the natural cycle and
movement of life. And for the Mayans, sacrifice was a central
part of life. They didn’t believe in the traditional “beginning
of time” and “end of time”. Instead, they believed that everything functioned
in cycles, and that nothing ever died or ceased to exist. Sacrifices were seen as simply passing on
to the next phase in the cycle, whether it be going through the underworld and ascending
through the 9 levels found there, or possibly trying to get to heaven, but having to pass
through the 13 levels to get there, the Mayans had absolutely no problem with
offering human sacrifices. Their religion involved several aspects of
nature, astronomy and rituals. Most Gods represented a form in nature, for
example, the Sun God, or Maize God, which came directly from the Maize that was a central
part in Mayan diet. They were polytheistic, and worshipped somewhere
around 165 different gods. The years went by, and slowly, these small
villages and communities turned into larger urban centres. After the turn of the millennium, around the
year 250 AD, we enter the period known as the “classical period”. And this is the period that most of us think
about when talking about the Mayans. The villages that had been built in the previous
centuries were now turning to massive cities housing tens of thousands of inhabitants. Just like the Egyptians, large pyramid structures
were built, and the Mayan cities that have marvelled modern-day archeologists for so
long, had finally been created. These pyramids were built mostly for religious
purposes. One purpose was to serve as a place
to offer sacrifices to the gods. Another one might have been to represent
the Mayan aspiration of reaching heaven by building vertically. Now, when looking at these buildings, perhaps
the most obvious thing one can see is the fact that hieroglyphic script is everywhere. It’s no secret that the Mayan culture was
heavily artistic. And their hieroglyphs are the key to us understanding
their history and their ideologies. For the longest time, these hieroglyphs were
thought to be indecipherable. We thought we had too few remaining texts,
too few remaining examples to properly identify what these writings mean. But, in the 1980s, some very smart people
slowly began to crack the code. We realized that the Mayans were big believers
in documenting their own history. Large carvings found in front of temples have
been deciphered to reveal the long history of the different rulers of the temple they
were representing. You literally had each ruler’s date of birth,
the day they ascended to the throne, their important life events, and their eventual
death. Having made these discoveries, archeologists
were then able to build a sort of dictionary with hieroglyphs that would help them decipher
even more of these carvings. We’ve learnt about their culture, their
religious beliefs, their daily rituals, and we were finally able to decipher the famous
Mayan calendar, which has confused people for many centuries. The discoveries that we’ve made about the
Mayans tell us that they were a very advanced civilization, capable of great mathematics
and astronomy. When we realized that their calendar ends
on December 21st, 2012, it’s normal that people got scared about a potential end of
the world scenario. The end date, contrary to the paranoia that
happened in 2012, and as we’ve discovered, does not indicate the end of time. It in fact indicates the end of a cycle and
the beginning of a new one, which fits perfectly with the idea that cycles were the primary
aspect of the universe in Mayan culture. So no guys, don’t worry, we’re still stuck
here on Earth. At least for now. For about 700 years, they thrived and advanced. They were able to predict solar eclipses,
to calculate the precise position of Venus at all times, and for the most part, left
a very thorough written record of all of their advancements. But, this civilization has something strange
to it. In the 9th century AD, most of their big cities
were abandoned. The Mayans simply decided to leave. Now we don’t know why exactly. Perhaps it was the deforestation that they
caused, or a drought that made agriculture very difficult, which some evidence might
suggest, or it might simply be a religious reason. We don’t know. The truth is that we probably would’ve known
why, and also generally we would’ve known a whole lot more about the Mayans than we
do now, had it not been for the fact that most of their texts and books were burned
by the Spanish in the 16h century AD. When Spain came to the new world, they saw
the Mayans and other cultures as inferior people that could be “used” and most importantly,
people that could be converted to Catholicism. Catholicism was the Spanish religion and they
were very adamant on converting people to it. And if you know a little bit about Spanish
history, this was in the middle of the Spanish Inquisition, which, well you know was horrible. They came, they burnt their books, and converted
them to Catholicism and pretty much destroyed most of their vast, rich culture. Although some of it survived and went underground,
it underwent a profound transformation. It’s hard to keep your religion and culture
when you have Spain, who is more sophisticated and dangerous, dedicated to making sure you
lose it. The Mayans still remain today, still perform
some of the same rituals of their ancestors, but you can definitely see the Spanish influence. Their culture has become a sort of mix of
both, washed down and transformed throughout the years. It is unfortunate that this happened, but
it did. The only thing we can do now is work with
what we have, and try to keep discovering this interesting civilization. And now I want to pass the question onto you
guys. What do you think of the Mayan civilization? What do you think about the fact that Spain came and litterally destroyed everything? Please do leave me a comment I would love
to read and answer them all, and bonus points for you if you do leave a comment, as always, you get a chance to be featured in next week’s video as a fan of the week! Now as you know, and say at the end of every video,
I haven’t talked about everything regarding the Mayan civilization. That’s ok. I’m actually doing this on purpose to get
you guys to go out and research more on your own. Because I believe in research and I believe
in getting you guys educated on a subject. It’s the whole reason I do this show. For those curious, that want to learn more about the Mayan Civilization, as always,
you’ll find links in the description where you can start! Thank you so much for watching this video, thank you for giving your time to me rambling about the Mayan Civilization, if you’ve enjoyed this video please leave it a big thumbs up, make sure to subscribe and hit the notification
bell, join #TeamKnowledge and be notified whenever I release a new video. With that being said, my name has been Darius
Cosden, it’s been an absolute pleasure and you can follow me on social media, the links will be in the description, and I’ll see you all next Wednesday!

34 thoughts on “The Mayan Civilization

  1. you should do avideo about the jweish civilization and history i tried hard to search about it but it's really hard to find the right resources and true history

  2. Damn it Spain! Hope you enjoyed this week's episode on the Mayan Civilization! I had SO MUCH FUN making it ☺️

    P.S. I do also have a second channel ➨

  3. To be fair though, Spain wasn't the first group to destroy the history of the people they conquered. It would have been nice though if no civilization in destroyed the history of its victims…or if this practice stopped in our current era

  4. That is intense how like after a good game, they sacrifice someone. Can you just imagine if people did that today? 😂

  5. hey can i get feautred as a fan of the week plz , i love your channel so much and i have watched a lot of your videos

  6. Pre-colonial American civilizations like the mayans are really interesting to me. I'm going to Peru soon and I can't wait to get to see Incan history

  7. As somebody with a big interest in Mesoamerican culture, this is one of the better videos on the region and the Maya on youtube; even if it's mostly a general overview. That being said, there are a few things I think you could have done a bit better; even iif obviously you only had aroun 10 mins for the video and you want people to do research themselves (you did forget to post the research links in the description though!) so here's my constructive criticism:

    For starters, something you never touched on but is rather important is that the Maya never unified: There was no "Maya empire" or combined Maya civlization, but seperate city states and kingdoms. This is also why I imagine you don't touch on specific political events across Maya history, since there's hundreds of different city states to go over, butt it still would have been nice to go into more details on important specific ones, such as Palenque or Tikal.

    Something else is that I wish you would have touched on when discussing Maya glyphs is that while they had Hieroplyphs, they had a second script of glyphs which were an actual true written language, where indivual components of glyphs represented spoken sounds and combined to form spoken words, like how asian written languages worked. It also would have been cool if instead of using random fictional art at 5:39, you used an actual artistic reconstruction of a real maya city, such as the model of Tikal at Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología in Guatamala city.

    Lastly; The "Maya collapse" is pretty overtstated. A lot of Urban cities were abandoned, but plenty still thrived and new ones were founded: It was really more a decline in specific areas with activiity shifting to others.. The largest Maya state in history,, the League of Mayapan; which controlled an area 300km wide and 200km tall, for instance, was only first united it's founding city states in 987 AD and lasted till the mid 1400's.

    Anyways, if you do a video on the Aztecs, while i'm not an expert, I know a fair amount from just being interested in them and mesoamerica as a whole and could def point you in the right direction for cool points to mention, good sources for more info, and historically accurate and cool images to use, if you'd like my assistance on those, I'd be happy to help.

  8. My friend is Guatemalan and tells me his family is not mixed with Spanish blood( most of Latin America is mixed Native American, African and European) and is of pure Native Central American lineage, he says his family’s native language is called Mam(he doesn’t speak it but his older sister mother father and elder family members do along with Spanish which he does speak) and tells me they claim to be a family of Mayan descent. Pretty cool how some of the Mayans cultural lineage survived btw I obviously know that there blood lineage survived through mixing with the Spanish

  9. just a few things: the calendar you show in the beginning of the video is not maya, its the mexica calendar found in tenochtitlán, capital of the Aztec, and also meso-america refers not to america before the arrival of europeans, it refers to "middle" america, roughly the area covering modern central and southern Mexico and central america.  Just those details!

  10. The Cacique is asking for help…….YOU MUST READ THIS
    Honorable Mayor,
    With all respect, I humbly ask that you take the time from your important duties and obligations as Mayor of Amityville in the county of Suffolk in the empire state of New York in the country of the United States of America to read, investigate, analyze, judge and meditate under a prayerful heart what I will humbly request of you in this document of mutual communication as citizens of this great nation.
    You might not know me by name or title, I lived in the Village of Amityville in an adequate dwelling located in the corner of Oak and Lake in front of a beautiful park with a lake. You might have heard or known my family since we have been somewhat active in the community. My ex-wife Fanny Garcia has an educations degree and was a teacher in your school system for a while. My four sons, Renzo Andres, Ramon Antonio, Fabian Luis and Miguel Angel Garcia all studied proudly in the Amityville school system, participated in sports through your local clubs, worked in your local shops and businesses and attended our local Catholic church. I myself enjoy all this with my family and loved were I lived dearly. So what happened you might ask for me to be asking you for an urgent request now? Good question but if you do not already know let me first tell you a story about who I am…
    When every person is born we all are innocents, tender and in need of care; don't you agree? But, even though we are tiny, fragile and with soft skins, we all carry steal a great burden into life…The previous history of the life lived by our ancestors; is this right? We only know how great or small it is when we are told of it, but we are all born innocent of the previous acts of humanity. I was born on the 27th of February in the year of our Lord 1964 the day of the independence of the great land of my people Haiti Quisqueya, today known as Haiti/Dominican Republic, to a mother named Indiana and a father named Caonabo Garcia; the last silent Cacique of my land. At that time my mother Indiana was in New York City with a child in her belly was requested to return immediately to her land because the future Cacique needed to be born in the sacred land of his ancestors.
    You see honorable Mayor this fact I did not know at birth a fact that a neither asked or wanted but accepted as my fate in this the land of the living. When I was a child doing childish things I did not know history, family issues, secrets, death, agony, circumstances, responsibility, honor, loyalty, consequences….and must important who was an Indian….not to mention a Cacique and what that meant until I was trained by my elders from my birth until to the 12th of December of the year of or lord 1973 when for the first time in my life I left the country of my birth and stepped upon the land of the free in the city of New York in the empire state of United States. I did not question the fact that even though my father was the inspector of the system of education in my country I never attended public school but was personally trained…I thought that was normal but was not. I learned about our role as a family descendant of the Great Caciques of the Maya / Aztec Empire, I learned how we came to this land surrounded by waters, how we lived, our culture, our civilization, our beliefs and our struggles to survive. I learn how my people one day believe in and embraced a great wondering Cacique that appeared walking the lands because he was the perfect example to imitate, not just because of his words, but because of his actions, deeds, love, and miracles performed. I was told many, many times in many different ways how as he departed towards the East hovering on top of the waters after promising that one day he will return my people without hesitation or fear, full of love and passion, entered their ships and followed him into the unexplored waters after him. My people the Mayas discovered first Cuban (The land first touched) a short distance away, when into Jamaica ( Land of the Gods because it was so beautiful ) and settled in Haiti Quisquella ( Land of high mountain rest of the Great Cacique ) stayed, my beloved Island land that I Love. There we waited for his return…and…there we became TAINOS. It was hard for me been so young to understand, cope or comprehend what that descriptive word meant… best meaning is and what I understood after many years is….Godlike.
    As the time of my departure to safety in the Super Power of the time the United States of America drew near, even though I was not fully of age, I was told our cruel reality and the dangers of revealing our well-kept secret to the world. Why? DANGER OF DEATH. My ancestral Grandfather in 1492, when we supposedly were discovered, was Caonabo, my Grandmother was Anacaona together they were the Mayor Caciques of that time, Caonabo the Cacique who became CARIBE for the first time in our history. Caribe was a descriptive word that was very hard for me to understand even to this day…. my best meaning is and what I understood after many years is….The devil incarnated. It was told to me many times to calm my young spirit down from anguish when I used to hear them speak and describe the works and magnitude of selfless brutality this sound conveyed that they assured me that it is impossible to become Caribe voluntarily. To become one is only possible if the God of the Universe himself allows it for his glory. So, why did the godhead of his people become one?; When he realized that his hope of being able to finally see with his own eyes what his people were so anciently waiting for for so long was not true but a total lie. Engulfed in deep spiritual mourning over the fact that the person that he believed to be the Great Cacique of our past turned out to be a salvage. They came not to love but to rape, not to give but to take, not to heal but to kill. So he was turned CARIBE for the first time in his life. Then he proceeded to destroy their fort “La Navidad”, killed all but a few, took all their possessions and forced the saved ones under submission to teach us how to use and operate their foreign weapons and prepared for the return of the in basils. WAR was declared. It took trickery from the Spaniards to be able to submit, capture and then kill this great man. CAONABO After he was dead his wife continued with the struggle until she was tricked once again like her husband had been tricked into committing a larger mistake; remembering the Taino’s way of life, trusting and believing their intention for peace she was convinced to gather all the Caciques of the Islands to meet in a formal consul to negotiate peace amongst them; as the Caciques were seated and waiting inside the palace meeting hall and my Grandmother was outside inquiring why was taking so long to commence the meeting and talking to them, she witnessed with her own eyes how the soldiers of the enemy closed down the assembly and put it ablaze killing all inside it. Later as an example to her people she was hanged in the great plaza, cut into pieces and her bones and flesh were displayed all over the land. Our people fell under a dark cloud of an intense feeling of mourning, anguish, and hate and now we all became CARIBE against them. Fleeing for their lives, they mistakenly forgot about her young daughter, my ancestral Grandmother who was immediately protected and concealed. later she married my ancestral Grandfather known all over the world as Cacique Enriquillo.
    Tainos from birth, both of them became submissive to the new order and followed willingly the newly established laws and ordinances enforced by the new rulers. Knowing who they were in secret and what they represented to the people they submitted themselves to the point of becoming slaves under the new law of retribution and repartition established by Spain. Under their new master they followed instructions and obeyed faithfully and with joy were baptized with foreign names and they would have continued like this into death, but their master committed a grave mistake – He tried to commit the sin of rape. They ran away and in hiding, under the darkness of the night he was made CARIBE and felt, this awful taste and this intense pain in the heart for the first time in his life and because he was trapped with no way to go he submitted to the evil that he felt within and declared WAR again.. The war that he and his braves orchestrated lasted for another 20 years until the King of Spain himself was obliged to offer the first peace treaty of the new world to him under Enriquillo terms in order to stop the bloodshed of his Spaniards people. The treaty was honored for a few years until they killed him, The Cacique was buried in his sacred grounds in the area of the country were he specified under his terms in the treaty. Of course, his tomb became a place of pilgrimage for our people until they neglected their contract, abounded their words sealed and signed by their Kings, desecrated his tumb and built a Catholic church on top of his bones. They did not learn from the past and Spanish blood started to inundate the land again until they discovered the perfect weapon to submit our rage and destroy our race…the biological weapon of decease used to genocide our people all over the Americas.
    Now you know why the sea surrounding our Islands is not called today the Taino sea but it acquired the name of the Caribbean Sea because of all the years of suffering by millions of people from both sides of the conflict shedding their blood-fighting courageously for a just and Godly cause… to protect the lives and future of our people in the continents.
    When our people finally realized that in reality under the disguise of evil came to our land the Great Cacique that all along we all have been waiting for attached to wood posts poring his divine love to all the believers we received peace. …continue upon request at [email protected]

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