When Was the Ancient Mayan Civilization?

The Ancient Mayan civilization, one of the most advanced and intriguing civilizations of the world, existed from about 2000 BCE until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. This remarkable culture developed in what is now known as Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The Early Mayan Period

The early Mayan period is believed to have started around 2000 BCE when small villages started to develop into larger communities. During this time, the Mayans were primarily farmers and relied heavily on agriculture for survival. They built irrigation canals to help with crop production and developed a complex system of calendars to track planting and harvesting cycles.

The Classic Period

Around 250 CE, the Mayan civilization entered its Classic period. During this time, their society became more organized and complex.

The Mayans built impressive cities with grand temples, palaces, and pyramids. They also developed a hieroglyphic writing system that was used to record important events and history.

Fun Fact: The ancient Mayans were skilled mathematicians and astronomers. They accurately predicted solar eclipses and created a calendar that is still accurate today.

The Postclassic Period

The Postclassic period began around 900 CE when the decline of the Classic period began. This era saw a shift in power from southern Maya cities to northern ones such as Chichen Itza. During this time, trade between other cultures increased significantly.

  • The civilization was eventually weakened by internal conflicts.
  • By 1500 CE it was mostly abandoned due to droughts.
  • The Spanish Conquest took place in the early 16th century.


Despite no longer existing as an active civilization today, the ancient Mayan’s legacy lives on through their impressive accomplishments. From their advanced mathematical and astronomical skills to their beautifully crafted cities, the Mayans continue to fascinate people across the world.