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Maya Revival Following the Collapse of Chichen Itza

During the eleventh century, many of the Maya city-states in Mesoamerica fell apart. But the Maya experienced a brief revival in 1250 following the collapse of Chichen Itza. The revival would be brief as the great Maya civilization completely crumbled in the fourteenth century until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. The Mayan revival following the collapse of Chichen Itza is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History during 1250 AD.

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The Collapse of Chichen Itza

The Maya city of Chichen Itza was built around AD 800. It grew until it became the most powerful force in the northern Yucatan. At its peak, Chichen Itza ruled over thousands of people. It was regarded as the largest of all Maya cities. Its military captured other cities and the tribute that these cities paid made Chichen Itza very rich. The city was a popular pilgrimage site because of its temples and its sacred pool. The sea trade centered in the nearby Isla Cerritos also made it very wealthy. Its influence extended as far east as Nohmul in present-day Belize and south into Seibal in Guatemala.

“El Caracol, observatory of Chichen Itza”

Around 1050, the central Mexican city of Tula was destroyed and the Toltec people who lived in it fled from their homes. Some went south, while others later ventured north to the Yucatan Peninsula and invaded the city of Chichen Itza. Stone reliefs in Chichen Itza showed the violence with which the Toltecs conquered the city. The Toltecs celebrated their victory with the construction of a tzompantli (skull rack), Chac Mool, and Temple of the Warriors. The city continued to reign until it was conquered by Mayapan, but by then it was not as important as it once was.

The Rise of Mayapan and Brief Maya Revival

The city of Chichen Itza continued to exist after it was conquered by the Toltecs, but it was not as influential as it once was. The rulers of Chichen Itza also built an alliance with the rulers of Uxmal and Mayapan in the years that followed. War later broke out between the allied cities and the city of Izamal after its ruler kidnapped the wife of the king of Chichen Itza. King Hunak Keel of Mayapan later turned on his former allies and conquered Chichen Itza. Mexican mercenaries and the people of Izamal also helped him destroy the great Maya city.

Because of this victory, Mayapan became the most powerful Maya state in the Yucatan Peninsula. A local noble family called the Cocom also emerged as powerful rulers of Mayapan for the next two hundred years. Mexican mercenaries and Maya priests helped the Cocom family impose peace and order. The people of Mayapan traded with neighboring Belize, Honduras, and central Mexico which added to their wealth. The Cocom family continued to rule until they were overthrown by the Xiu noble family in 1440.

Picture By Bruno GirinFlickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
Demarest, Arthur Andrew. Ancient Maya: The Rise and Fall of a Rainforest Civilization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Sharer, Robert J., and Loa P. Traxler. The Ancient Maya. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.
“THE HUNAC CEEL EPISODE.” Chilam Balam: Appendices: Appendix C. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
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