The Maya civilization existed from around 1800BC to about 1700AD with the final defeat of the Maya by the Spanish. The peak of its power and influence was during the Classic period (250AD to 900AD).
The Maya excelled at agriculture, pottery, hieroglyph writing, calendar-making and mathematics, and left behind a huge amount of architecture and symbolic artwork.
Maya artifacts are everywhere in the Yucatan, with an estimation of over 1000 Maya sites, many of which have yet to be worked from an archeological perspective. It is just beautiful.
Just look around. You can see ruins even from the highways. Many of the mounds of rock, or small hills that you see, are actually the ruins of buildings.
In the post classic period (900AD to 1500AD), due to many influences, the Maya civilization was reduced in size, and many of the cities of the Classic period were abandoned.
The Maya continued to be an influence in the Yucatan region and in other parts of Central America.
The arrival of Spanish in the early 1500’s marked the end of the end of the city states and their great civilization.
Many of the people in Akumal and the rest of the Yucatan are the descendants of the Maya civilization.
One key question was how to read their language.
The Maya wrote in complex hieroglyphs, and produced many illustrated books, however, all but four were burned by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
One of the remaining four, called the Dresden Codex, was essential in helping to begin the decoding of the language in 1981.
Today about 90% of the hieroglyphs are understood. There continue to be discoveries as to this complex Central American civilization.
The corn god(left) and the rain god. Chac, drawing from the Madrid Codex (Codex Tro-Cortesianus), one of the Mayan sacred books; in the Museo de America, Madrid.
Dresden Codex, one of the few collections of pre-Columbian Maya hieroglyphic texts known to have survived the book burnings by the Spanish clergy during the 16th century.
The Maya are also famous for their mathematical capabilities.
The Maya had both complex counting systems, and a calendar.
What is significant was their advancement in both. In the mathematics, they had a symbol for zero as early as 350AD.
And in the Maya calendar, today called the Calendar Round, dates cycle once every 52 years, much like the cycle today that we follow in the Gregorian calendar.
There are many, many questions that still exist about the Maya, and their way of life. The more we learn about the Maya, the more they are becoming appreciated as an evolved civilization.
In our area, there are several significant ruins, all in varying states of restoration, varying states of access, and thus varying numbers of tourists.
Even if you are not a history buff, you should see at least one of these during your stay. Check out our map to see how close they are!
And if you are a history buff, we can help you plan some wonderful trip exploring the ruins and culture.