Mayan History

The Mayans, who built many pyramids in central America were around for 2000 years and occupied the Yucatan peninsula where Cancun is as well as what is now Belize and El Salvador. The Mayan culture had 31 languages and 3 written down.

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There are 100’s of pyramids scattered all over this area of the Americas. The bigger the town the bigger the pyramid.

Every dot a pyramid

In the Cancun peninsula area where I stayed I found two pyramids within 30 minutes walk. In 2018 radar analysis of the jungle has revealed Huge Mayan city with pyramids found hidden under jungle with up to 60,000 lost buildings and settlements. It is estimated the population of the peninsula could have been 10 million. When the Spanish arrived in 1530 and saw the first Mayan city they said it was “bigger than Seville”. The Catholic priests who followed the Spanish conquest of the area burned 1000’s of Mayan books and therefore what we know about their culture is limited.


The Mayans had a pantheon of around 160 gods and one god head figure in charge of all the others. The Popol Vuh is the sacred book of the Mayans telling of the creation of the world and the creation of humans after two first attempts with mud and wood humans failed and the gods wiped them out. It also tells of a great flood. Their legends talked about the heroic twins who went on many adventures killing the 7th Macaw demon bird with their blow pipes.

Twin brothers versus the 7th Macaw

Americas History Timeline

There are three periods – pre-classic, classic and post classic. Easy. In pre-classic times it seems that the building and writing knowledge came from the Olmecs. Central and southern America is full of pyramid building cultures such as the Aztecs, Inca’s and numerous others you probably have not heard of. The Aztecs and Incas were only around for 100 to 200 years. The Mayans were unique as they developed writing and were around for 2000 years. Being on the Yucatan peninsula meant there was not a lot of through traffic.

Mayan Daily Life

They grew maize, ate fruit and hunted game with blowpipes. Coastal cities fished. Towns were large with pyramids, palaces and streets of stone house lined on a north south axis. Jobs were hereditary. Only the ruling class could read and write. Mathematics was advanced and had a concept of zero. Thousands of books recorded their culture. On the down side they did not discover the wheel nor metal.

Mayan Writing

There are 600 symbols in Mayan writing.


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