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The timeline of the Maya Civilization is often divided up into three major periods: the Pre-classic Period, the Classic Period, and the Post-classic Period.
Pre-classic Period (2000 BC to 250 AD)
The Pre-classic Period covers from the start of the Maya civilization to 250 AD when the Maya civilization began its golden age. A lot of development took place during this period. The major cities during this period were El Mirador and Kaminaljuyu.
Classic Period (250 AD to 900 AD)
- 2000 BC - Farming villages begin to form across the Maya region.
- 1500 BC - The Olmec civilization develops, the Maya will take on much of their culture.
- 1000 BC - The Maya begin to form larger settlements at places like Copan and Chalchuapa.
- 700 BC - Mayan writing first starts to develop.
- 600 BC - Large buildings are built in the city of El Mirador.
- 600 BC - The Maya begin to farm. This enables their society to support larger populations and the cities begin to grow in size.
- 600 BC - The settlement at Tikal is formed. This will be one of the major cities in the Maya civilization. It will reach its peak in power during the Classic period.
- 400 BC - The first Mayan calendars are carved into stone.
- 300 BC - The Maya adopt the idea of a monarchy for their government. They are now ruled by kings.
- 100 BC - The city-state of Teotihuacan is established in the Valley of Mexico. It influences the Maya culture for many years.
- 100 BC - The first pyramids are built.
The Classic Period is considered the golden age of the Maya city-states. Most of the artistic and cultural achievements of the Maya civilization took place during this period.
Post-classic Period (900 AD to 1500 AD)
- 400 AD - The city-state of Teotihuacan becomes the dominant city and rules over the Maya highlands.
- 560 AD - The city-state of Tikal is defeated by an alliance of other city-states.
- 600 AD - The powerful city-state of Teotihuacan declines and is no longer a cultural center.
- 600 AD - The city-state of Caracol becomes a major force in the land.
- 900 AD - The southern lowland cities collapse and Teotihuacan is abandoned. The reason for the collapse of the Maya Classic period is still a mystery to archeologists. This signals the end of the Classic period.
Although the southern city-states collapsed, the Mayan cities in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula continued to thrive for the next several hundred years during the Post-classic period.
Colonial Period (1500 AD)
- 925 AD - The city-state of Chichen Itza becomes the most powerful city-state in the region. It will rule for the next two hundred years.
- 1250 AD - After declining for years, Chichen Itza is abandoned.
- 1283 AD - The city-state of Mayapan becomes the capital city of the Maya civilization. The League of Mayapan is formed to rule the region.
- 1441 AD - The people rebel against the rule of Mayapan. The city is abandoned by the late 1400s.
- 1517 AD - The Post-classic period comes to an end with the arrival of the Spanish and conquistador Hernández de Córdoba.
- 1519 AD - Hernan Cortes arrives and explores the Yucatan Peninsula.
- 1541 AD - Many of the Maya city-states are conquered by the Spanish.
- 1542 AD - The Spanish found the city of Merida.
- 1695 AD - The ruins of Tikal are discovered by a Spanish priest who is lost in the jungle.
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