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Maya Civilization, Early Classic Period of

The Maya civilization reached its height during the Classic Period starting in 250 AD, according to the Bible Timeline Chart with World History. Hundreds of ceremonial centers were built in the lowlands of modern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, as well as some parts of Honduras and El Salvador. These ceremonial centers eventually evolved to become powerful kingdoms. At one point, their combined territories reached as much as 324,000 sq km. The kingdoms were never ruled by a single king or united under one government; instead, these independent kingdoms formed alliances and were sometimes at war with each other over resources.

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The Classic Period was marked by several Maya accomplishments including:
* the development of the 360-day Long Count Calendar and hieroglyphic writing system
* colorful (polychrome) and intricately designed ceramics
* the use of the corbelled arch in architecture
* the construction of magnificent palaces, pyramids, and ball courts

“Calakmul was one of the most important Classic period cities.”

During the Early and Late Classic Periods, the Maya rulers chose to document their accomplishments and their kingdoms’ histories by inscribing them on dated monuments (stelae). Such as temples, pottery, and other artifacts that were later recovered from their ceremonial sites. Between these two periods was the hiatus period. This was marked by a decrease in the creation of the dated monuments and frequent wars between Central Maya lowland tribes.

The Late Classic Period was a prosperous one for the Maya. It was marked by an increase in population as well as an improvement in Maya monuments, architectural elements, and ceramics. The number of cities and towns grew, but so did conflicts and competition between rulers over the limited resources. By the end of this period, the Maya society became frayed because of the disputes between kingdoms, warfare, and changes in their environment. The construction of temples and other magnificent structures dwindled at this point until the ceremonial centers were completely abandoned.

Picture By User:PhilippN, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Cremin, Aedeen. The World Encyclopedia of Archaeology. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2007
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