Date: World History/Section



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Name: Ms. Zendrian

Date: World History/Section ___

Engineering An Empire: The Maya Empire: Death Empire

Introduction: Over 3,000 years ago, the Maya developed a complex civilization in present-day Guatemala. Each Maya city had its own chief ruler, who was considered half-man, half god. Most Maya were peasant farmers who lived in thatched huts and grew corn, but there was also a small class of craftsmen who made luxury goods for the nobles. The nobility were a small hereditary class who performed sacred ceremonies on special occasions and assisted the rulers. The Maya frequently engaged in wars and practiced human sacrifice. They developed a ball game (pok-to-pok) that became popular throughout the Americas. The losers were often sacrificed in a religious ritual. Around the 9th century, Maya culture experienced a great crisis. Archaeologists do not know if a food shortage, epidemic, or great war brought an end to the Classic Period (250-900) of Maya civilization. The Maya migrated north to the Yucatan peninsula in present-day Mexico, and built a new series of city-states. One of these later Mayan cities is well preserved at Chichen Itza, which is famous for its observatory. Constant warfare from the 13th to the 16th centuries and pressured from neighboring peoples led to the decline of Maya civilization. The final blow came with the “encounter” with the Spanish conquistadores with their Guns, Germs, and Steel. Their achievements include architecture and pyramids, a writing system (glyphs), math, and astronomy.




  1. The Maya civilization was made up of city-stats. How many city-states probably existed? What was their relationship to each other?


  1. Describe the Mayan kings.


  1. What was “blood-letting” and human sacrifice important to the Maya?


  1. Tikal and Calakmul: What were their relationships?


  1. Yikan Chan Kawaiil (734- 760 AD): What did he have built and why?


  1. What made building so difficult at this time? What advantage did they have?



  1. Why didn’t the Maya use metal or the wheel in their labor?


  1. How did Kawaiil celebrate the defeat of Naranjo and El Peru?


  1. Pacal the Great (615-683) ruled over the city-state of Palenque. What did he have built? What civilization are they comparing the Maya to?


  1. What was the purpose of the cinnabar on Pacal’s final resting place? Did it work?


  1. How did Pacal make himself “legitimate”? Why did he create such “gaudy” buildings?


  1. Pascal was the founder, his son Kan Bahlam (681-702) was the consolidator. What does that mean?


  1. What did the Maya have the Ancient Greeks did not in their construction?


  1. What is the “golden mean”?




  1. How did the Maya create water pressure? Who are the Maya being compared to?



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