Civilizations have been in existence in different parts of the world where they undertook various activities that defined their uniqueness. The Maya is one of the civilizations that rose in the 2600 BC to become prominent in 250 BC. This civilization built itself based on inventions from others like Olmec in terms of the development of writings, hieroglyphics, and calendar systems. The Mayans were skilled in different aspects of farming and trading with distant people through elaborate networks. Therefore, the Maya civilization existed in tropical lowlands and leveraged on their expertise in farming, trade, architecture, and hieroglyphics to become one of the most powerful empires only to experience a dramatic decline by 900AD.
This civilization was composed of indigenous people of Central America and Mexico. These people had continuously inhabited these lands that have been known to host modern-day Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco, Chiapas, and Quintana; and, southward through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Unlike other civilizations, which were scattered across the region, the Maya were centralized in a single geographical block enhancing developmental activities with minimal chances of invasion from other Mesoamerican people. This form of centralization is what made this civilization grow and become the most powerful in the region due to its administration structure.
Despite the nature of centralization with the specified expanse, the Mayans lived in three disparate sub-regions with different cultural and environmental aspects. The northern Mayans lived in lower parts of Yucatán peninsula; the southern lived in highlands in the mountains of southern Guatemala, and others lived in the southern lowlands. Despite their differences, this civilization was involved in the construction of monuments that have since fascinated scholars and explorers of this civilization. It is their combined expertise and regional practices that made this civilization unique and adaptable to developmental socio-economic practices.
In fact, this civilization was known to be elaborate and have articulated social, economic, and political systems. They used hieroglyphics, calendars, and astrology to shape their operations of the time. The Maya civilization has also been noted for having highly decorated architectural constructions such as palaces, pyramids, and observatories that were all constructed without metallic tools. Mathematics, geometry, and numerical systems were used to develop architectural structures that reflected socio-economic developments of the time. In addition, they were skilled tradesmen and farmers since they lived in tropical rain forests where groundwater was scarce, and, good expertise was required to build sustainable reservoirs that stored rainwater.
Good skills have been noted by scholars in terms of pottery, weaving, and development of trade routes to foster commercial activity. Agricultural production had to suffice some demand and supply dynamics within and outside the region. The Maya were engaged in clearance of routes though swamps and jungles so as to create expansive networks with people in distant locations. Such exceptional undertakings and establishments of trade networks is what probably made the Maya among the best known classical civilizations in Mesoamerica. Its basic constructs and approaches to its socio-economic issues shaped the whole civilization in terms of farming, trade, architecture, and its subsequent rise into a powerful kingdom.
Success of the Maya civilization was also founded on an elaborated administrative structure that coordinated resources and ensured the population was appropriately managed. The Maya developed a hierarchical system of governance that was ruled by kings and nobles. In the classic period between 200 and 900 AD, this civilization created highly structured kingdoms that consisted of independent states. Each had its own urban sites characterized by ceremonial cities, as well as rural farming communities that had to deliver agricultural produce depending on their corresponding capacities. It is the same administration that coordinated the collection and movement of agricultural produce to other kingdoms as trade partners.
This system existed for decades that have been classified in terms of periods that include pre-classic, classic, post-classic, and the eventual downfall of the kingdom. In the pre-classic period, this was the emergence of civilization were settlements were developed, and commercial farming activities were initiated. This development script was already being used in the Petén in 3rd century before ushering the classic period. The classic period is when lowland Maya began creation of monumental inscriptions, architectural constructions, and demonstration of significant artistic and intellectual development. Particularly, this period was likened to classical Greece or Renaissance Italy where cities used complex networks of enmities and alliances to foster their development.
Different rulers took part in the civilization to create powerful cities but with severe consequences in the 9th century. This is the time when the Maya civilization began its eventual downfall, even though there is no universally acceptable theory for this happening. During this period, a major political collapse occurred and was marked by the termination of dynasties, abandonment of cities, and shifting of activities to the north. The most likely cause of the collapse was overpopulation, drought, and warfare that continually hampered governance of the empire.
The classic Mayan civilization was organized on the concept of ritualized authority of rulers instead of centralized control of food distribution and trade control. With time, this administrative model proved to be poorly structured in terms of responding to situational variations as a ruler’s activities were limited by traditions. In the end, it caused systemic problems that led to eventual downfall rather than continuity of the empire. Despite the downfall, the Mayan civilization remained present as more people settled around fertile locations with sustainable sources of water. Even though it took some time for the population to resettle in the abandoned regions, the Maya civilization continued until the Spanish invasion that eroded the empire.