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Mayans

The Ancient civilization of the Maya flourished in Central America for around 3,000 years. They were an advanced civilization, building astonishing stone pyramids in the inhospitable rainforest. These pyramids were built in the perfect alignment for studying the stars; the Maya were accomplished astronomers and built their calendar based on their observations of the night sky.

The Maya used a system of hieroglyphs to write, using about 800 of them to form words. Although they were probably not the first people to discover chocolate, they were the first people to make it into a drink.

Teach your children about Ancient Maya using our handy topic guide!

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Teaching Ideas

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Resources

The Ancient Maya Pack

Ancient Maya Facts

  • The Ancient Maya civilization was established in around 1800 BCE. By 900CE, most of their cities had been abandoned.
  • The Ancient Maya were one of the first civilizations to use zero in their number system.
  • Archaeologists use images taken from space to locate Ancient Maya sites in the rainforest.
  • The Maya wrote books on tree bark. Only four still survive and are known as the Maya codices.
  • The Maya did not vanish when the cities were abandoned; about six million Maya people live in Central America today.

Videos

The Maya Novice

Learn about different Maya jobs in this reality TV show! There are more useful videos in this series (called History of Early Civilizations).

Running time: 5:00

How to make tortillas

Find out how to make an authentic tortilla.

Running time: 2:03

Xcaret – Pok-ta-Pok

This video shows how the ball game Pok-ta-Pok was played.

Running time: 1:05

Introducing the Maya civilisation

What was life like for the ancient Maya?

Running time: 4:12

Books

Rain Player

A gorgeous retelling of a Maya myth.

Chocolate Tree

The story of the gift of the chocolate tree.

Middleworld

A fast paced adventure for older primary children. Can Max and Lola save his parents from the Maya underworld?

Mystery of the Maya

Can you save Tom when he disappears on an expedition. You choose what happens!

Avoid being a Mayan Soothsayer

This funny book gives an insight into the life of a soothsayer.

The Ancient Maya

This fascinating book is full of amazing true facts about the Ancient Maya.

DKfindout! Maya, Incas, and Aztecs

Explore Ancient South American civilizations in this colourful and informative book.

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