Around 2500 BC, the territory of the modern state of Guatemala was inhabited by tribes who spoke a language called by researchers protomaya. Over the years these people were spread to different regions and thus formed a striking Maya civilization.
In her zenith in 250-900, the Mayan empire encompassed vast territories. They extended to the southwestern parts of Mexico and southern United States, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and parts of Honduras.
For centuries the Mayans learned how to drain wetlands, how to build irrigation and drainage systems. They were subsisting in agriculture, hunting and fishing.
Cities of the Mayas possessed an unique outlook, temples were built in the form of stepped pyramids, decorated with statues and reliefs.
The Mayan territory was divided into city-states that often fought among themselves. At the head of each tribe stood a hereditary chief. The priests and rulers, with their servants, lived in cities and ordinary people lived in huts in small villages.
The Mayans created the only American hieroglyphic letter, containing more than 800 characters. They had impressive achievements in astronomy and mathematics.
In 230, a volcano destroyed large areas. This was the end of the pre- classical period in the history of the Mayan nation.
Between 300 and 800, the Mayans and their civilization reached their zenith. On the Yucatan Peninsula were built many new cities.
The Mayans were the first people in America who began to build cities of stone. To connect the cities they built roads, passing through jungles and swamps. They did not use metal tools, pack animals or carts. In their cities stood towering palaces and temples.
For them, life on earth and life after death were comparable. They thought it was the most natural thing to offer sacrifices to appease the gods. Numerous wars have been waged and this led to a drastic population decline. Agriculture declined, and by 950 most cities had turned into rubble. In 1200 came a short period of prosperity, but were destroyed by their Spanish conquerors after three centuries.
In 1511, when the Spaniards first reached these lands, the ceremonial centers of the empire has long been abandoned and the territory was conquered by the invaders. They destroyed the advanced culture that they found there.
The most vandalistic act was committed Bishop Diego de Landa. He burned all the manuscripts and works of art, which he discovered.