Essay Example on Unveiling the Ancient Mayan Culture: From its Height to Abrupt Demise

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1149 Words
Date:  2023-04-24


The Mayan tradition is one of the most prominent and fascinating. The Mayan culture can be traced in present-day Honduras Guatemala and El Salvador. Of these three countries, Guatemala is identified as the origin of the Mayan society and where the Mayan people still live up to date. The Mayan cultural influence and power was at its peak around the 6th Century A.D.

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Some of the key elements that make the culture so outstanding is its high level of civilization and abrupt demise. The Mayans developed cities whose technology was far ahead of its time and upheld strong traditions for themselves. This paper provides a detailed discussion of how the Mayans practiced their traditions, how the lives of changed over time, and finally, how their culture impacts global culture.

Mayan Traditions

The Mayans are defined by their civilization tradition that covered entire Central America and which excelled in calendar making pottery, mathematics, astronomy, and hieroglyph writing. The Mayans practiced more advanced agriculture, which included terracing and irrigating their lands to produce huge harvests (George and Charles, 2010). One of the most outstanding elements of the Mayan tradition was their capacity to construct a magnificent society in the tropical rainforest environment. The culture is renowned for the high level and impressive artwork and architecture in building fortresses and sanctuaries in stridden pyramid shapes and ornamenting them with unique engravings.

The Mayan culture was also defined by strong religious beliefs based on the holy books Popol Vuh and Quiche Maya. The culture was also based on worshipping different gods associated with nature, including the gods of the rain, sun, corn, and moon. According to Mark (2012), "The Maya believed deeply in the cyclical nature of life - nothing was ever `born' and nothing ever `died' - and this belief inspired their view of the gods and the cosmos. " The Mayans believed that these gods helped people go through different life cycles.

The Mayan culture did not unify but instead was made up of several small states led by kings who were based on cities. At times, the stronger Maya states would rule over the weaker states and obtain labor and tribute from them (Suter and Buell, n.d). The Mayan kings claimed to have a strong bond with the gods and assumed a hereditary leadership style. The kings served as mediators between the people they led, and the gods and often led in conducting religious rituals and ceremonies, which were an essential part of this tradition.

The earliest Mayans had a single language. However, the pre-classic period in the 21st century saw the Mayans adapt to a tremendous linguistic diversity whereby in the present day, approximately 5 million people speak over fifty Mayan languages, most of whom are multi-lingual in Spanish (Suter and Buell, n.d).

How the Mayans Traditional Perspectives Changed Over Time

The present-day Maya still sits within the borders of the ancient empire in Central America. The Mayans still practice agriculture on the same lands their ancestors used many years ago, with their main crops remaining to be corns and beans. The Mayan farms are cleared and prepared, following the ancient approaches of cutting and burning bushes (Mahoney, 2017). Also, these people still use the same rivers for transport from the Northside of Central America to Honduras. "The claim that the Maya somehow vanished, simply because their cities were found abandoned, is not only inaccurate but insulting to the over six million Maya who carry on the traditions of their ancestors" (Mark, 2012). Although the majority of the Mayans converted to Christianity after the Spanish conquest, they currently observe a hybrid religious system of Mayan mysticism and European Catholicism.

The populations have retained many aspects of their original culture (Suter and Buell, n.d). An example is where village Day keepers still conduct traditional duties, and rituals are still performed on hills and caves. Similarly, the present Mayans still worship their ancestral gods, including the corn god, whom they believe brings luck during harvest.

Additionally, the Mayan populations still believe in the cycle of life and still use the Mayan language. However, the majority of Mayans in presently speak Spanish as their second language due to contact with outsiders through tourism and trade. Many people living in the Mayan culture still follow the traditional weaving and dressing customs (George and Charles, 2010). However, only a minor percentage of the Guatemalans live the full Mayan lifestyle as many of them adopted the Spanish way of life following the invasion of the indigenous people.

Land ownership has changed from being communally owned to private ownership, where the Mayans have become victims of unequal land distribution. As a result, many people in modern Maya are living below poverty levels. The Mayans have remained to be identified with early civilization, such as standing monuments, but they no longer possess the skills.

How the Mayan Tradition Contributes to Global Culture

The Mayan culture contributes to the scientific processes by providing an environment where scientists study the history of the Mayan people and their way of life. Scientific history is crucial in that it provides evidence on cultural history, thus making it possible for people to understand how Mayans were organized and how they ran their day-to-day activities (Mahoney, 2017). By studying cultural history, people can learn and borrow some cultural aspects and incorporate them into their own lives.

Socially, the Mayan culture acts as a point of a tourist attraction-people from different parts of the world travel to Guatemala to experience the abandoned Mayan structures. The tourists also learn about the technologies that were applied to build these monuments. With tourism, people from different cultures mix and integrate, thus promoting the bonding aspect. As a result of tourism, Mayan culture develops trade within the region. An example is where people visit the Tikal National Park's ruined city of Mayans, an aspect that promotes cultural and social development.


The Mayans culture was once a leader in a global civilization. However, over the years, their culture became less significant, especially after the colonization by the Spaniards. As a result, the Mayan empire crumbled, and people lost control of their dominance. Today, the Mayan generations still occupy the Central American region, which is characterized by remains of what used to be a city. The Mayan people still uphold their ancestry traditions but have intertwined them with Christianity values. By retaining these cultural values and heritage of the lost city, the Maya culture remains to be one the greatest to have ever existed.


George, L., and Charles. 2010. Mayan civilization. Gale, Cengage Learning. ISBN-13: 978-1-4205-0240-4

Mahoney, E., 2017. The Mysterious Maya Civilization. Greenhaven Publishing LLC.

Mark, J., 2012. Maya Civilization. Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Suter, K., and Buell, S., n.d. The Mayan Civilization - Present and Past.

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Essay Example on Unveiling the Ancient Mayan Culture: From its Height to Abrupt Demise. (2023, Apr 24). Retrieved from

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