The Maya 300 BCE–300 CE

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Map Code: Ax01735

The first civilization of Mesoamerica, the Olmecs of southern Mexico seem (like the Toltecs for the Aztecs) to have performed a cultural tutelage for the Maya, bequeathing their systems of numbering and chronology. As the Olmecs collapsed in the 4th century BCE, the Maya were beginning to urbanize in their southern lowland sites abutting the Pacific. Within a century or two, Chocola, and particularly Kaminaljuyu in the adjacent uplands, had become significant cities prospering through interregional trade in goods like jade, obsidian and cinnabar. Even larger cities developed to the north in central Yucatan. El Mirador, the largest of all Mayan cities, had a population of around 100,000 from the 1st century BCE and its vast ceremonial complex housed one of the largest pyramids by volume ever constructed. It is in this central area that written inscriptions are first found. By the 1st century CE, substantial settlements ad spread throughout Yucatan.

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