In this part of our biography podcast, we look at one of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas - The Mayas.
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The earliest Maya settlements in North America date back to 1800BC [Citation 1]. At that time, they were just a bunch of farmers. But they expanded continuously for the next 2000 years. As a result, by the year 250AD, there were several powerful Maya cities.
The Maya were very religious people. According to them, the gods needed nourishment. So, they offered human blood and human sacrifices to them.
Each of these cities was ruled by a king. The king was at the center of the Maya culture. He was the political, religious, and military head of the country. All the people other than the king fell into one of these three classes - the upper, middle, and lower classes.
While the Maya were socially divided into three classes, their empire was regionally divided into several city-states. Each of these city-states had a king. But people in these city-states were not politically united. They did not share a common identity either. But these cities thrived greatly until the ninth century.
Then, in the ninth century, these cities were deserted by their own people. The reason for that could be one or a combination of more than one of the below factors:
Overexploitation of resources made the soil infertile
Constant wars [Citation 2]
A rigid social structure made responding to natural disasters and wars difficult
But regardless of the reason, the Maya cities were abandoned. As a result, when the Spanish came to these places, all they saw were the remnants of what was once a great empire.
Finally, this episode ends by discussing some fun facts/common myths about the Maya people, in the below order.
1. Where did the Maya get their name from?
2. Why did the Maya make human sacrifices? [Citation 3]
3. Did the Maya really sacrifice the losers of their ball game, Ulama? [Citation 4 & Citation 5]
4. Did the Maya really predict that the world would end on December 21st, 2012?