The civilization of the ancient Maya spans over 3,000 years. This chronology is typically divided by modern historians into three eras:

  • Pre-Classic Period, c. 2000 BC to 250 AD
  • Classic Period, c. 250 AD to 900 AD
  • Post-Classic Period, 900 AD to 1500 AD

Luis Dumois has published an easy-to-read timeline of Mayan history; click here to view it.

Much like the independent yet strongly interlinked city-states of Renaissance Italy, the Maya were organized into politically independent states with common cultural and spiritual bonds.

Indigenous Maya groups include:

  • the Maya, who inhabited the Yucatán peninsula
  • the Huastec, who occupied northern Veracruz
  • the Tzental who occupied Tabasco, Chiapas and the Quiche area
  • the Cakchiquel and
  • the Pokomam who occupied the Highlands of Guatemala.

Today, the powerful Maya rulers are gone, gazing at us from millennia past through the surviving glyphs and stelae. But their descendants are still among us, approximately 6 million of them, living as the modern Maya people of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize.


Stay tuned for a more in-depth discussion on Mayan history, coming soon!