Timeline Description: The Maya civilization existed from about 600 BC to AD 1546. Their land covered the southern portions of Central Mexico and parts of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. At their peak they were advanced in astronomy and architecture, and created a type of rubber.
|3114 BC||Mayan calendar begins (August 13, 3114 BC).
The Maya are known for keeping accurate calendars. They have three of them-a solar, divine, and astronomical calendar. The Long Count, or the astronomical calendar, lists the Maya creation date as August 13, 3114 BC.
|2500 BC||Preclassic Period (About 2500 BC to AD 250)
The Maya civilization is divided into three distinct periods. The first is the Preclassic Period where the people live in simple houses in family communities that are surrounded by farmland.
|300 BC||Cities start to develop. (About 300 BC)
Tikal, El Mirador, and other communities in the southern lowland region begin to develop.
|100 BC||City-states appear.
Tikal develops into a city-state of about 40 thousand people.
|50 BC||Temples begin (About 50 BC).
Originally a simple village with thatch huts, Cerros, along the Belize coast, starts building a pyramid temple. It is two-tiered with a temple of three rooms at the top.
|250||Classic Period (About AD 250 to AD 900)
The Maya villages grow into large cities with temples, palaces, and roads. There are now nobles and priests, as well as farmers. A middle class forms with traders, artisans, and officials. Astronomy, writing, and calendars are perfected.
|219||First Royal Dynasty begins (AD 219 to AD 238).
Yax Moch Xoc becomes the first king of Tikal. All Maya cities have independent states with their own rulers.
|300||Maya society booms.
The Maya use stelae carvings to write the histories of their rulers. The earliest known stela is at Tikal, dated from AD 292. Scroll Ahau Jaguar is ruler around this time. Cities now have temples overlooking main plazas.
Copan in southern Guatemala starts developing. King Yax-Kuk-Mo oversees the city's first major temple. Smoke-Jaguar begins ruling in AD 630. His 67-year reign ushers in a large period of growth.
|700||Tikal is at its height.
By this time Tikal has a population of between 50,000 to 100,000 people in its 50 square mile area.
|822||Mysterious decline (AD 822 to AD 869).
The people of Copan leave in AD 822 and Tikal does the same in AD 869. No one knows exactly why the cities in the southern lowlands start to decline. No more writings are found which could mean problems in the religious and ruling classes.
Some of the southern lowland people make their way to the Yucatan Peninsula. About AD 987 the Toltecs from Central Mexico invade the area. Their influence is shown in buildings and traditions.
|1200||Mayapan becomes the seat of government (About AD 1200).
Hunac Ceel becomes king and makes Mayapan his capital. He conquers his rivals and starts the Cocom dynasty, who rule the Yucatan for about 250 years.
|1441||Northern cities abandoned.
A revolt overthrows the Cocom of Mayapan. Cities in the north are abandoned. The Maya state has ended. Local chiefs now rule.
|1524||The Spanish conquer the land (AD 1524 to 1546).
The Spanish begin their fight to conquer the remaining cities of the Maya in AD 1524. The final conquest is carried out in Ad 1546 by Francisco de Montejo the younger, whose troops have horses and guns. The once vast empire of the Maya is defeated. The Maya will always be remembered as an amazing and powerful culture who carved a thriving civilization out of the jungles of Central America.