Introduction

Humankind arrived in the New World somewhere between 70,000-10,000 B.C.E., most likely via a land-bridge that existed between Alaska and Asia. After the glaciers began to melt and the sea levels rose, the land-bridge vanished, and there was little or no contact between the New World and the other continents for thousands of years. Because of this geographical isolation, the cultures that subsequently developed are an entirely unique and largely unknown branch in our Old World centric view of history.

The Maya are one of the Mesoamerican cultures of this New World. They are descendants of the Olmecs, inhabiting Southern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Central America. At their peak around 500-1000 C.E., Mayan society was one of the most advanced the earth had known, developing a complex culture, with a precise knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and an intricate written language. But it could also be brutal, with human sacrifice, warfare and slavery all commonplace.

While much of the ancient Mayan culture & knowledge was destroyed or lost after the Spanish Conquistadors invaded, today scholars and archaeologists are deciphering the few remaining hieroglyphics and excavating their once great cities. With these clues, we are beginning to piece together how the Maya may have once lived.