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Brief summary of individual periods

Preclassic period (2500 BC to AD 250)


Chronologically: origination of the first agricultural communities, origination of the Olmec civilization on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, origination of other centres La Venta and Tres Zapotes - the first forms of hieroglyphics, origination of the first Mayan centres, e.g. El Mirador, gradual termination of the Olmec dominion, gradual expansion of hieroglyphics and the calendar system, the so-called: “Long Count”, development of Tikalu as the most influential city in the central area.


Early classic period (AD 250 to 600)

Witnessed the flowering of art and architecture, development of political formations, of which the most important was Tikal controlling large inland territories, development of other ruling dynasties and cities; this period is characteristic due to building steles (stone pillars with carved hieroglyphs describing history of the specific city) and altars, powerful influence of Teotihuacán as the most powerful city in central Mexico became evident.


Late classic period (AD 600 to 950)

After the collapse of Teotihuacán, Tikalu experienced a temporary decline; on the other hand, development of the important city states, such as Calakmul, Palenque, Yaxchilán, Toniná, or Copán appeared, frequent conflicts between these rivals occurred; at the end of this period, decline and abandonment of the main centres in the south of the Mayan territory occurred (it is also called the fall or collapse of the Mayan civilization) and in the north of Yucatan, some cities survived and the impact was not so dramatic.


Early postclassic period (AD 950 to 1250)

In this period, great waves of migration of nations living in central Mexico occurred, multi-ethnic political formations appeared such as the Toltec city of Tula, the entire area is affected by the Kukulkana cult, or the cult of the feathered serpent (Quetzalcoatl in the nahuatl dialect), influence of the migration resulted in the flowering of some Mayan cities in the north, in particular Chichén Itzá, development of a trade route in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico towards Honduras appeared, a new architectonic style was developed


Late postclassic period (AD 1250 to 1521, or AD 1697)

This period is characterized by political dissociation, in the north of Yucatan, the power of Chichén Itzá was collapsing and the role of the ruling state was taken over by the city of Mayapán, at the same time, the city of Tenochtitlán was founded in Central Mexico and the Aztec empire, which became the most powerful empire in the history of Mesoamerica, originated. This epoch of development was terminated by the arrival of Hernán Cortéz in 1519 and conquest of the Aztec empire in 1521. The history of conquest of Yucatan and subjugation of individual Mayan states however took the Spanish nearly 2 more centuries before the last Mayan city Tayasal fell in 1697.


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