Mayans and Teotihuacan | World History | Khan Academy


– [Instructor] The Mayan civilization is one of the most
long-lasting civilizations, not just in the ancient Americas, but in the world in general. You can see the rough
outline here on this map of where the Mayan civilization occurred. You can see it has the Yucatan
Peninsula in the north, the Sierra Madre Mountains in the south, and it covers regions of
modern-day southeast Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Western Honduras, and El Salvador. We believe that there were
settlements in this region as early as 2000 … As early as 2000 B.C.E., and
then we have the emergence of the first cities around 750 B.C.E.. And even then there are signs of significant cultural advancements. There’s evidence that there
was a sophisticated base-20 numeral system that included
the use of place value as early as 1000 B.C.E.. To put that in context, the
Hindu Arabic numeral system which we now use, and most
of the world now uses, it wasn’t devised, we don’t believe, until about 1000 years later, and it wasn’t adopted
in Europe until about 2000 years after the time
where we see the first evidence of this Mayan numeral system, this base-20 system that had place value. Now, around the third century B.C.E., so roughly in this time
period right over here, we see the first writing. These are examples of what
a Mayan glyph looks like. So that is a Mayan glyph, and you read it in order like this. And once again, this is a
very early form of writing, and it’s believed to be
the first form of writing, well-established writing, in the Americas. Now, on top of their
sophisticated numeral system and the writing that they developed, they also had a very
sophisticated calendar. Their calendar was more accurate
than the Julian calendar, which was adopted by Julius Caesar, and that was the state of
the art in the western world until the middle of the second millennium. So their calendar was more
accurate than what was used in most of the world
until around 1500 or 1600. Now, as we get into 250 in the Common Era, that’s considered the classical period. That’s when some of
their really great cities start to emerge, cities like Tikal and Calakmul. My apologies ahead of time
for the pronunciation. It is believed that at their peak, these cities had 50,000 to 100,000 people. Now, what we now believe is that it was not one unified empire, that there wasn’t a Mayan empire
with a centralized emperor, but rather, it was closer
to the Greek city-states, where each of these cities
were their own state. Their more powerful cities,
like Tikal or Calakmul, might have had influence
or sway over others, but it wasn’t a unified empire in the sense of the Roman
Empire or the Persian Empire or some of the early Indian empires. Now, it is believed that
each of these city-states, they did have a king who was
not only a political ruler but also a spiritual ruler, considered a divine king, a connection between the
natural and the supernatural. We have evidence that they
practiced human sacrifice as part of their believe system, as part of their rituals. Now, near the end of the fourth century, there’s evidence that there
was significant influence or even conquering of some of these cities by another civilization, or maybe we could say another city, and that is Teotihuacan. We know that it was a very powerful city, and that, in the fourth century, it started to really exert
significant influence, and just to get a sense of
the sophistication of what Mayan cities look like, and
I’ll show you what we believed Teotihuacan looked like in a second, but this is a construction of what Tikal might have looked
like near its peak. And Teotihuacan, we have
significant ruins there. Teotihuacan, as you can see,
is based near modern-day Mexico City, and these are
the ruins from Teotihuacan. Just to get a sense of how
sophisticated a city this was, this is a reconstruction
of the map of the city. So the vantage point that
you have from this picture would have been roughly in that area, so what you’re seeing right over here are these … These buildings, or these
little squares here. This pyramid that you
see out in the distance, that would have been this pyramid. So you can see from this reconstruction of what the city might have looked like, it was a vast and significant city. Pretty much everything that you can see in this picture was
part of this great city. It was believed that it was
established around 150 B.C.E., based on our best evidence today, and lasted until about the
middle of the sixth century. Now, they name Teotihuacan, we don’t … That’s not its original name. It’s the name given to it by the Aztecs, but it’s believed that at
its peak around 400, 450, and remember, this was around the time that it was exerting significant
influence over the Mayans, it is believed that it had
upwards of 100,000 people living in the city. 100,000 to 200,000. I’ve even seen some accounts
saying 250,000 people, which would have made it, at the time, one of the largest cities in the world. Some accounts have it ranked as the sixth largest city in
the world that we know about. Now, one interesting question was, was Teotihuacan an independent
city-state by itself, or was it the center of an empire? This is something that
historians debate today. Now, some of the evidence
for why it was maybe a center of an empire is it’s believed
it was a multiethnic city. We see its influence over the
Mayan cities, especially over Tikal, as we get into the
end of the fourth century. We also see this incredible
confluence of people and culture and trade at Teotihuacan, which, once again, hints
that it probably wasn’t a standalone city, but it
was probably the center of some type of regional influence, or maybe an empire. We don’t traditionally see
cities of that size form unless they are the
center of a larger empire, and they’re able to
get tribute or taxation from other states. Now, Teotihuacan ends
up declining or falling before the Mayan civilization. You see Teotihuacan in
this blue-green line. You see the Mayan civilization
in this light blue, and then in the classical period, this slightly darker light blue. And Teotihuacan collapses
around 550 in the Common Era, and the best theories
we have today is that it might have been some type
of an internal uprising, maybe due to some type
of drought and famine, and you can imagine, people will revolt if they’re not able to get enough food. Now, the Mayan civilization,
it is believed, also started to collapse a
few hundred years after that. So as we get into the 800s,
the Mayan civilization, we believe, might have
experienced some similar things, maybe some drought, some famine, that similarly caused uprisings, division, and allowed that to collapse. Now, there is evidence
of some of these cities lasting beyond the classical
period, all the way up until you have the European
colonization of the region. We’ll talk more about that and
some of the successor states, like the Aztecs, who considered themselves a bit of a successor
state to the civilization or to the city of Teotihuacan, and we’ll look at that in future videos.

21 thoughts on “Mayans and Teotihuacan | World History | Khan Academy”

  1. The Maya calendar was not a good solar calendar as it had 365 days in a year which of course accrues error and shifts through the seasons. So its not correct to say it was more accurate than the Julian calendar – definitely not as a solar calendar which would naturally be the most useful to us

  2. The Spanish claimed the natives all had their own villages and languages. They were all seperate states that were constantly at war with each other. They conquered the natives very easily because some cities became allies with the spanish and fought with the spanish to conquer other enemy cities. They also claimed they were cannibals who ate their enemies after battles. They also claimed that they thought the Spanish were somewhat gods and were astonished at their clothing, metal armor and weapons and big ships. They were also frightened by their horses that they brought over. It didn't take long for them to conquer each city and they realized pretty quickly that spreading diseases was an easy kill off for the natives. They knew all they had to do was get to the king of the city and kill him and the rest of the people in the city would surrender. They claimed the Aztecs were the same way. The cities were abandoned due to diseases killing off most of the natives that the spanish brought. As far as taxes of teotihuacan, the spanish said in journals that the smaller cities were pay taxes to the larger cities and this is one reason they hated each other. I believe they paid taxes in providing so much food to teotihuacan.

  3. Lies and More Lies…..We had NO kings and Human Sacrifice is a Joke.Our Calendar is the Most Precise of All even to this Day and Yes U can Hate but that Doesn't Change F A C T……!!

  4. 0:49 It seems as if the Vedic Rishis (Sages) had communicated with the Mayans, and vice versa… Check out some of the ancient monuments or temples coordinates that are aligning with East, West, North, and South

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