The Mysterious Maya: an ancient American civilisation
Professor Norman Hammond
Fellow of the British Academy and Archaeology Correspondent for The Times, London
The Maya created one of the New World’s most surprising and accomplished civilizations in the tropical forest of Central America and Yucatan. Over a period of 2500 years, ending with the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, they moved from simple villages of maize farmers to great cities with impressive temples and palaces, adorned with sculptures and paintings praising their divine kings. Inscriptions in Maya hieroglyphics recorded history and the passage of time, precise to the day; the Great Cycle of the Maya calendar will end on December 23rd, 2012. Most of the cities were abandoned, afflicted by overpopulation, warfare and drought, by AD 900, but Maya culture, and the Maya people, have survived into the 21st century.