Maya: The Exhibition Fact Sheet 

Fact Sheet / April 14, 2023

Maya Civilization Geography: 

  • The Maya world extended over the modern countries of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, and parts of Mexico. 

  • These areas are covered with a thick and unruly jungle which is why the Maya remain a mystery even to this day. 

Maya People: 

  • The Maya people were passionate hunters and hunted an array of animals found in the rainforest like deer, pheasants, wild boars, raccoons, and monkeys. 

  • They hunted using arrows, spears, and blowguns with tiny clay pellets, as well as set traps to catch their prey. 

  • Their most hunted and most feared animal was the jaguar. 

Maya Beliefs: 

  • The Maya believed that the world was created by gods and its preservation required tireless effort and obliged all humans to participate in rituals and make sacrifices. 

Maya Agriculture: 

  • Their most valued crops were maize and cacao, which had their own gods.  

  • Maize was grown in a milpa, where various types of beans, squash, tubers, chilies, and maize plants are grown together, creating its own agro-ecosystem. 

Maya Writing System: 

  • It consisted of about 750 hieroglyphs and dates as early as 300 BCE. 

Maya Calendar: 

  • The Maya Calendar consists of 3 distinct calendars that work together as a series of interlocking wheels of different sizes, each one marking a different time span:  

  • The Tzolk'in was the Divine Calendar, which marked religious and ceremonial events. 

  • The Haab was the Civil Calendar, which was based on the cycle of the sun and was used for agricultural, economic and accounting activities. 

  • The Long Count was an astronomical calendar, which details information about moon phases and star cycles, which they believed could predict supernatural forces and prepare people from natural disasters. 

Maya Legacy: 

  • Today, the Maya legacy lives on through more than 6 million descendants who continue to practice their traditions and speak any of the 30 Mayan languages.