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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:23

Video transcript

the Mayan civilization is one of the most long-lasting civilizations not just in the ancient Americas but in the world in general you can see the rough outline here on this map of where the Mayan civilization occurred you can see it has the Yucatan Peninsula in the north the Sierra Madre Mountains in the south and it covers regions of modern-day Southeast Mexico Guatemala Belize Western Honduras and El Salvador we believe that there were settlements in this region as early as 2000 as early as 2000 BCE and then we have the emergence of the first cities around 750 BCE and even then there are signs of significant cultural advancements there's evidence that there was a sophisticated base 20 numeral system but included the use of place value as early as 1000 BCE to put that in context the hindu-arabic numeral system which we now use in most of the world now uses it wasn't devised we don't believe until about a thousand years later and it wasn't adopted in Europe until about 2,000 years after the time where we see the first evidence of this Mayan numeral system this base 20 system that had place value now around the 3rd century BCE so roughly in this time period right over here we see the first writing and these are examples of what a Mayan glyph looks like so that is a mine glyph and you read it in an order like this and once again this is a very early form of writing it's believed to be the first form of writing well-established writing in the Americas now on top of their sophisticated numeral system and the writing that they developed they also had a very sophisticated calendar their calendar was more accurate than the Julian calendar was adopted by Julius Caesar and that was the state of the art in the Western world until the middle of the second millennium so their calendar was more accurate than what was used in most of the world until around 15 or 1600 now as we get into 250 in the Common Era that's considered the Classical period that's when some of the really great cities start to emerge cities like Tikal and calakmul and my opponent my my apologies ahead of time for the pronunciation is believed that at their peak these cities had fifty to a hundred thousand people now what we now believe is that it was not one unified Empire that there wasn't a Mayan Empire with a centralized Emperor but rather it was closer to the Greek city-states where each of these cities were their own state they're more powerful cities like to call or calakmul might have had influence or sway over others but it wasn't a unified Empire in the sense of the Roman Empire or the Persian Empire some of the early Indian empires now it is believed that each of these city-states they did have a king who was not only a political ruler but also a spiritual ruler considered a divine king a connection between the natural and the supernatural and we have evidence that they practiced human sacrifice as part of their belief system as part of their rituals now near the end of the fourth century there's evidence that there was significant influence or even conquering of some of these cities by another civilization or maybe we could say another city and that is Teotihuacan we know that it was a very powerful City and that in the fourth century it started to really exert significant influence and just to get a sense of the sophistication of what Mayan cities look like and I'll show you what we believe Teotihuacan look like in a second but this is a construction of what to Kyle might have looked like near its peak and Te'o - Lakhan we have significant ruins their tailor to lock in as you can see is based near modern-day Mexico City and these are the ruins from peyote walkin and just to get a sense of how sophisticated a city this was this is a reconstruction of the map of the city so the vantage point that you have from this picture would have been roughly in that area so what you're seeing right over here are these these buildings or these little squares here this pyramid that you see out in the distance that would have been this pyramid and so you can see from this reconstruction of what the city might have looked like it was a vast and significant city pretty much everything that you can see in this picture was part of this great city and it was believed that it was established around 150 BCE based on our best evidence today and lasted until about the middle of the 6th century now the name Taotao walken we don't that's not its original name it's a name given to it by the Aztecs but it's believed that at its peak around 400 450 and remember this is around the time that it was exerting significant influence over the mind it is believed that it had upwards of a hundred thousand people living in the city hundred thousand to two hundred thousand I've even seen some accounts saying two hundred fifty thousand people which would have made it at the time one of the largest cities in the world some accounts have it ranked as the sixth largest city in the world that we know about now one interesting question was was to you talk in an independent city state by itself or was it the center of an empire this is something that historians debate today now some of the evidence for why it was maybe a center of an empire is it's believed it was a multi-ethnic city we see its influence over the Mayan cities especially over to call as we get into the end of the fourth century we also see this incredible confluence of people and culture and trade at tio2 Locken which once again hints that it probably wasn't a standalone city but it was probably the center of some type of regional influence or maybe an empire we don't traditionally see cities of that size form unless they're the center of a larger Empire and they're able to get tribute or taxation from other states now Te'o - Lakhan ends up declining or falling before the Mayan civilization if you tailor to walk in in this blue green line you see the Mayan civilization in this light blue and then in the Classical period this slightly darker light blue and Teotihuacan collapses around 550 in the Common Era and the best theories we have today is that it might have been some type of an internal uprising maybe due to some type of drought and famine and you can imagine people will revolt if they're not able to get enough food now the Mayan civilization it is believed also started to collapse a few hundred years after that so as we get into the 800s the Mayan civilization we believe might have experienced some similar things maybe some drought some famine that similarly caused uprisings division and allowed that to collapse now there are there is evidence of some of these cities lasting beyond the Classical period all the way up until you have the European colonization of the region and we'll talk more about that and some of the successor states like the Aztecs who considered themselves a bit of a successor state to the civilization or to the city of Teotihuacan and we'll look at that in future videos