The Classic and Postclassic Periods

Archaeologists and historians divide Mayan history into various eras, including the Classic and Post-Classic periods. The Classic period was from 200 to 900 AD, while the Post-Classic period lasted from 900 AD until the Spanish Conquest.

The Classic period is considered by many to be the height of Mayan civilization, while the Post-Classic period is a later resurgence of Mayan culture. Many of the greatest Mayan achievements occurred during this time: the development of a state-level government, a hieroglyphic writing system, a highly sophisticated religious system, and great advances in scientific knowledge, particularly astronomy.


Royal jaguar throne and elaborate stonework facades at Uxmal
(Photograph by Michelle Stokely)

One of the Mayan people's most lasting achievements was their architecture. Mayan ruins dot the Mesoamerican landscape: steep pyramids rising from the rugged highlands, incredible stonework decorating the temples of the lowlands. The site of Uxmal, seen above, is particularly known for the decorated facades of its buildings. Uxmal is considered by many to be the finest example of Mayan architecture in the Puuc style. The site of Uxmal flourished in the northern Yucatan, Mexico, during the Late Classic period, between 600 and 900 AD.

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