The Mysterious Mayas for Kids
Skilled Builders: Nobody knows where they came from, but about 2,400 years ago, a new tribe of people appeared in Central America. They settled in the rainforests of the Yucatan Peninsula. They were called the Maya Indians. They were very clever people. They set about making cities in the rainforest. They did not use metal tools. They used stone tools, wood tools, and tools made from shells. They were skilled builders. They built palaces, temples, pyramids, walls, homes. They built hundreds of beautiful cities.
Maya City-States: The cities were connected with well built roads that ran through the rainforests and jungles on the Yucatan Peninsula. Every city had a ball court, at last one and usually more than one temple, and a central plaza. Each city was a center of learning and religion. Each city had its own ruling family. The Maya city-states never unified. Like the ancient Greek city-states, the Maya cities often went to war with each other. Some historians believe they were almost always at war with someone.
A History Mystery: By 900 CE, the Maya cities were mostly deserted. Some people remained, and their descendants still live in Central America today. But without enough people to take care of them, the great Maya cities fell into ruin. That's why the Maya are called "the mysterious Maya" - nobody knows where they came from, and nobody knows what happened to them. It is a history mystery.
A Fascinating People: In the ancient Maya cities discovered, many thousands of hieroglyphics have been found. But not all of the around 800 different symbols that make up the Maya glyph system are understood today. As archaeologists and other scientists continue to decipher this ancient language, we hope to learn more about these fascinating people.