The Maya developed one of the most stunning early civilizations in the Americas. Yet they did so under challenging conditions. In this activity students will learn about the conditions the Maya faced and how those conditions affected the development and role of Mayan cities. Students will then have a chance to compare the Maya with one of the other early civilizations in the Americas.
Students will go to the Civilizations in America Web site to read about the Maya and their cities. Students will then compare the cities of the Maya with those of one other early civilization by collecting information on the two civilizations. They will use that information to write a paragraph in which they draw their own conclusions about the similarities and differences between the two civilizations and how they affected the development of cities.
- Students will be able to identify information they have collected about the Maya and another early American civilization.
- Students will be able to compare and contrast the two civilizations and to infer the impact of various features of those civilizations on the development of their cities.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Urban areas were important in Mayan culture during the Classic period, from A.D. 300 to 900. These areas were mainly in Guatemala and Honduras.
- For the Maya, cities functioned mainly as religious centers for the people from the surrounding rural areas.
- Almost all of the Mayan urban centers were built in tropical rain forest, which is extremely difficult to live in. This is probably why the Maya never developed a fully urban culture. Despite its lushness and moisture, tropical rain forest cannot support large human populations. Tropical rain forest makes poor farm land, so more land is required to support each person. As a result, Mayan areas remained sparsely populated.
- A priestly class lived in the cities, carrying out daily religious duties, particularly sacrifices. Peasants would gather in the cities during religious ceremonies and festivals. After the disappearance of the priestly class around A.D. 900, the peasants apparently continued to use the cities for a time.
- Students' tables and paragraphs will vary but should contain information on Mayan civilization and a civilization of the student's choosing from the Web site.
Go To Student Web Activity