The Mayan Empire: Introduction (01:49)
This episode examines the pre-Columbian civilization of the Maya, their great cities, and their architecture.
Palenque, Mexico: c.600-750 AD (06:27)
Many buildings were constructed during the reign of Pakal the Great. Palenque was one of the first cities excavated. The Palace was the center of the city and stucco images revealed cultural practices. The Temple of the Inscriptions housed Pakal's tomb.
Copan, Honduras: c.700-850 AD (05:37)
The frontier city reached its peak during the rule of King 18-Rabbit; Yax K'uk' Mo' was the city's founder. The twelfth king was buried under the Hieroglyphic Stairway. The King of Quiriguá captured and sacrificed 18-Rabbit; Copan collapsed in less than 100 years.
Tikal, Guatemala: c.700-850 AD (07:28)
Jasaw Chan K'awiil was the city's greatest king and buried beneath Temple I. The Maya constructed five more temples and thousands of buildings in the city; Alfred Maudslay cleared the site in the 1880s. Multiple factors caused the collapse of Mayan cities.
Uxmal, Mexico: c.800-1000 AD (05:29)
The Maya used high quality stone and building techniques to construct the city; the Governor's Palace exemplified their elaborate style. The Temple of the Magician held legendary significance; Chaac, the god of rain, was especially revered. A drought led to city abandonment.
Chichen Itza, Mexico: c.900-1250 AD (09:46)
The Mayan city was the largest and most powerful during its time; the Temple of Kukulkan represented the center of the universe. Agriculture was critical and the El Caracol observatory allowed more precise cosmological recordings. Priests appealed to Chaac and the Sun with human sacrifices.
Tulum, Mexico: c.1200-1550 AD (04:04)
The merchant city was one of the last built by the Maya and profits relied on coastal trade. The city's castle may have also functioned as a lighthouse; the coral reef initially afforded protection from conquistadors. Old world diseases decimated the population.
Mixco Viejo, Guatemala: c.1450-1530 AD (02:48)
The Maya founded the city less than 100 years before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. Military superiority and divide and rule tactics hurried the conquest of Guatemala.
Nojpetén, Guatemala: c.1450-1697 AD (05:29)
The island city was the last unconquered Maya kingdom. King Kan Ek' killed Spanish missionaries after they destroyed temple idols, igniting a war. Despite Spanish conquistadors, Maya religious beliefs and culture endured throughout the centuries.
Credits: The Mayan Empire (00:45)
Credits: The Mayan Empire
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