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The Maya originated around 3,000 years ago in present-day Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico.
The Mayan empire flourished in the southern regions from around 250 AD to 900 AD. The empire in the south collapsed around 900 AD. No one knows the reason.
Scholars have suggested, among other reasons, disease, political upheaval, overpopulation or drought. But while the empire in the south waned, that in the north, especially in the Yucatan, flourished until the Spanish conquests of the 16th century AD.
The Maya were very skilled farmers and also created a very sophisticated written language; some think it might have been the first written language native to the Americans.
The Maya also developed social class system which was a well-ordered and carried on trade throughout a network of cities that went as far south as Panama and as far north as Central Mexico. Mathematicians, their number system included the concept of zero, an idea unknown to the old Greeks, expert mathematicians themselves.
The Maya used their mathematical knowledge along with celestial observations to finesse a calendar created by the Olmec which is a culture from the Mexican Gulf Coast and to create monuments to observe and commemorate movements of the moon, the sun, and Venus.
Spectacular examples of these monuments can still be seen at Chichen Itza today. (chichenitza.com)
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