This paper will discuss the origin of Mayan society, and how the Mayan civilization grew. The text will analyze how the Mayan society eventually fell apart as well as some of the factors which led to the eventual collapse of this civilization.
The rise and fall of the Mayan civilizations is divided into seven major time periods. The first period is when the earliest Mayan Chiefdoms were formed, in approximately 1500 B.C. This period, called the Early and Preclassic period, extended until 400 B.C. After this came the Late Preclassic period in which the earliest statutes were found carved by Mayans in the southern Maya area. During the Late Preclassic era, the earliest monuments with Long Count dates were erected and the beautiful city of Tikal was founded by a royal Mayan leader (Yax Moch Xoc) (Sharer, xi).
After the Preclassic period ended, around 250 A.D., the next period is the Early Classic period, which extended until 600 A.D. This is when the Middle Mayan Civilization began, Copan was founded and a woman ruled Palenque. The next 200 years comprised the Late Classic period. Tikal was now ruled by its 27th through 29th king, Copan had its 16th king (Yax Pac) and Yaxchilan was ruled by its third Shield Jaguar king (Sharer, xii).
The last three period in Mayan history were the Terminal Classic period (from 800 to 900 A.D.), the Early Postclassic period (900-1200 A.D.) and the Late Postclassic period (1200-1524 A.D.) During this last period the great city of Chichen Itza was replaced as the Mayan people's capitol. Mayapan, a more northern city, became the new capitol. By 1500 the Mayan made their first contact with visiting Spaniards, which would lead to the Spanish conquest of the Mayan, between 1524 and 1697 A.D. At first, Pedro de Alvarado led the conquest of the southern Maya, followed by the elder and younger Montejos who conquered the northern Maya from 1524 to 1546 A.D. Finally, the Mayan civilization c...