The Mayan Prophecy and Our Future
The Mayan Prophecy and Our Future
The Maya Civilization
During the end of the Pleistocene Period, about 20,000 to 25,000 years ago, most archeologists agree that the first inhabitants of the Americas came across the Bering Strait. This was during the last Pleistocene ice age known as the Wisconsin Glaciation. The Bering Strait was covered over with thick glaciers. The sea level was more than 91 meters (300 ft) below what it is today and an exposed land bridge spanned the Bering Strait. People could easily cross into Alaska from the northeastern Asian continent. They settled first in the Northern Hemisphere, and then expanded throughout the Northern and Southern American continents. By the close of the last Ice Age, at the end of the Pleistocene about 7500 B.C., both the highlands and lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula were home to a population of hunters and simple farmers. By 3000 B.C. the domestication and cultivation of maize provided a stable and consistent food source enabling the Mesoamerican people to build permanent settlements. Population density increased and an evolving complex agricultural society began to emerge. The maize crops were easily grown, harvested, dried and stored to provide year-long sustenance, a key factor in transforming the nomadic lifestyle of hunters and food-gatherers to a more permanent and stable agrarian society.
The first Mesoamerican civilization, the Olmec culture, began around 1200 B.C. and quickly developed into thriving urban cities with large populations throughout the Yucatan peninsula, laying the foundation for the Maya culture which was to follow. As the Olmec society flourished, the development of art and religion became more sophisticated, as well as writing, astronomy and architecture. The large urban cities contained merchants, traders, farmers, artisans such as painters, sculptors, potters, jewelry specialists, and skilled construction workers as well as stone masons. Being the first master sculptors in early Mesoamerican societies, the Olmec constructed huge public buildings and immense stone sculptures, weighing many tons.
In 400 B.C. the Olmec city of La Venta, an important religious center with an estimated population of 18,000 people, a 30 meter (100 feet) high pyramid structure was built in the center of the city surrounded by plazas and other monumental buildings. This type of design was to be the most popular in many ancient cities in Mesoamerica, including the Maya. The pyramidal structures were considered sacred sites where religious sacrifices and rituals were performed during all auspicious occasions. These events were determined by high level priests skilled in astrology, numerology and ritual calendar cycles. La Venta rulers were buried in elaborate subterranean tombs containing immense collections of offerings consisting of serpentine figurines and jade, the most precious material in Mesoamerican cultures. Included within these tombs were a variety of stone sculptured portraits and monuments.
It was during this time period, from about 300 B.C. to 250 A.D., known as the Late Preclassic Maya civilization that the Olmec civilization peaked. Then it began its slow steady decline. In its place rose the beginnings of the great Maya civilization, first in the lowlands, and then eventually throughout the entire Yucatan peninsula. The earliest Maya protoglyphs (early hieroglyphic writings), at around 400 B.C., appeared at El Porton, in a region in what is now known as central Guatemala. It was here that stelae, large carved stone monuments, were found arranged in front of sacred altars. Stelae were to become the landmark signature among all other structures found in every great Maya city. These freestanding monuments were carved in a curvilinear two-dimensional style with hieroglyphic inscriptions detailing dates and events of the history and activities of the royal rulers, and of their respective dynasty. The largest stela eve