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Maya Civilization

Glossary and Terms

History >> Aztec, Maya, and Inca for Kids

Ahau or Ahaw - The main king or lord of a Maya city-state.

Batab - A lesser lord, usually ruling over a small town.

Cacao - Seeds that the Maya used to make chocolate.

Cenote - A sinkhole or pit filled with water, cenotes were sources of water for the Maya and were also used as places of sacrifice.

Chac Mool - A type of statue of a human figure in a reclining position usually holding a tray over the stomach.

Chichen Itza - The most powerful city-state during the start of the Post-classic period, Chichen Itza is a very popular tourist attraction today.

City-state - An independent government where a large city rules the surrounding area.

Classic Period - The golden age of the Maya civilization running from 250 AD to 900 AD.

Codex - A type of book written by the Maya that was created by one long sheet of paper that was then folded like an accordion.

Glyph - A symbol used in writing.

Haab' - The Maya solar calendar that was used to measure time and had 365 days.

Hero Twins - A major story in Maya mythology, the Hero Twins were said to be the ancestors of the Maya rulers.

Huipil - A traditional garment worn by Maya women.

Itzamna - The main god of the Maya, Itzamna was the god of fire who created the Earth.

Kin - Word representing a day in the Maya calendar.

Kukulcan - The serpent god of the Maya. One of the primary gods, especially to the Itza peoples of Chichen Itza.

Lintel - An architectural element often found over doorways in Maya architecture.

Nacom - A high ranking military leader in the Maya army.

Obsidian - A hard rock that was used to make sharp edges and tools.

Popol Vuh - A book or codex that described Maya religion and mythology.

Pre-classic Period - The period of Maya history running from the start of the Maya civilization around 2000 BC to the start of the Classic Period in 250 AD.

Post-classic Period - The period of Maya history running from the end of the Classic Period in 900 AD to the end of the Maya civilization in 1500 AD.

Pyramid - A large monument with four sides that tapers at the top. The Maya build step pyramids with flat tops. At the top they built a temple to their gods.

Quetzal - A type of jungle bird with feathers that the Maya used in their feathered clothing and headdresses.

Stela - A tall monumental sculpture made from stone with relief carvings made by the Maya.

Tikal - One of the most powerful city-states during the Classic Period.

Tzolk'in - The Maya religious calendar used to track religious days and ceremonies. It had 260 days.

Uinal - Word for a month in the Maya calendar. It was 20 days long.

Yucatan Peninsula - An area in southeastern Mexico where some of the Maya civilization developed.

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    History >> Aztec, Maya, and Inca for Kids

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