Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations






General information on the history of the Maya. Postclassic period

Category: Maya

In the Postclassic period Mayan high culture is preserved only in the north of Yucatan, but in the synthesis of a completely different civilization – Toltec. Petén city and the mountains of Guatemala have come to desolation, and many were abandoned by residents, while others turned to the tiny hamlet. North of the Yucatan and in the Classical era flourished – there has developed several major regions: Chenes, Rio Bec, Puuk. Center of the first was the “city” Chicanna, second – Calakmul, El Mirador, Cerros, in the third flourished Uxmal, Coba, Sayil “necropolis” island of Jaina. In the classical period it was the richest city of Yucatan, as it had the opportunity to trade with the Toltecs. But by the end of the classical era, these cities were destroyed by invading Mayan-chontal who were at a lower level of development than yucatecs and quiche. They were influenced by Toltec culture more than the Mayan culture. Shortly after the invasion chontal was founded religious center of Chichen Itza.

The city was founded, as believed, in the V-VI centuries and was one of the largest Mayan cities. By the end of X century, however, for unclear reasons, life here has virtually ceased. Buildings belonging to this period are mostly in the southern part of today’s Chichen Itza (sometimes the most southern part of town called Old Chichen Itza – Chichen Viejo). Then the city was occupied by Toltecs (this is one of the version – nowdays historians believe that there were influences but not invasion), who came to Yucatan from central Mexico (in 987 AD in the city there is the leader of the Toltec Topiltzin Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl, or, in Mayan, Kukulcan). The coming of the leader of the Toltecs, obviously, was not a peaceful event: in the inscriptions of Chichen Itza we are talking about the invasion of the invaders that overthrew the dynasty of the Maya. From the figures and inscriptions in the Temple of soldiers we can learn how the Toltecs came to power in the country, winning the first naval battle against the Maya, and then defeating them in battle on land in some city (perhaps in Chichen Itza). By winning, the Toltecs had enslaved their enemies, and their leaders were sacrificed to the sun god. Toltecs gave Chichen Itza a second life, and at least a century Toltecs of Chichen Itza maintained contact with the Toltecs of Tula. Based in Chichen Itza, the Toltec and allied with the tribes soon extended its influence over much of the Yucatan Peninsula. Anyway, the other major centers of this region – Uxmal, Mayapan – also bear the stamp of Toltec dominance or mixed Mayan-Toltec features in religion, architecture and sculpture. The conquerors brought with them new customs and ceremonies, the new features in the architecture, arts, and religion. The population of the city, according to various estimates ranged from 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants. In times of Toltec was formed the northern part of the Chichen Itza city. With the growth of other political power centers in the Yucatan, Chichen Itza hegemony increasingly causes them displeasure. The rulers of Chichen Itza demanded from neighbors new tributes and imposts. The situation changed at the beginning of the XIII century – Chichen Itza troops were defeated in the decisive battle by the force of three cities (Itzmal, Mayapan and Uxmal). By the end of XIV century the town fell into decline and once again deserted.

The most famous religious buildings in Chichen Itza – huge ball court, Cenote, and of course the famous El Castillo, the Temple of Kukulkan.

Period from 1200 to 1540 AD. Is era of conflict, when tribal alliances were torn and happened a series of armed clashes that have divided people, that even more emasculated culture. Yucatan comes into an era of fragmentation and decline. There was formed various states such as Campeche, Champutun, Chikinchel, Ekab, Chetumal, etc. These states constantly at war with each other and when the Spaniards arrived in the area of the Maya, the large ceremonial centers have been abandoned, and Culture was in full decline.


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