Driving the 300km across the Yucatan peninsula from Cancun in Quintana Roo state to the Hacienda near Merida, in Yucatan state, we hit the most fully restored Maya site – Chichen Itza.
This is the main pyramid, El Castillo. This is why we came – to climb pyramids and look around. And we were thinking, what?
Here is a very short time line of the people of the Yucatan peninsula. I was quite surprised at how late is was that the Mayan civilization flourished:
7000-2000BC Hunter-gatherers occupy the peninsula
2000-1500 Cultivators settle down and needing to have influence over the weather, develop a god of rain and a god of corn
1500-200 The Olmecs build the first ceremonial centers, develop religious rituals including human sacrifices to assuage an ever-increasing number of blood-thirsty gods
200BC-250AD Mayan farmers relocate to Yucatan
250-900 Mayas begin their temple-building era, develop a written language and sophisticated calendars, ‘build and abandon more cities than existed in all of ancient Egypt’, new cities being discovered even today
900 Beginning of the end of classic Mayan civilization
1000 The Toltecs conquer the Maya
1200 The Itzaes (of Mayan stock) move into the area
1524-1821 In 1524 the last major Mayan group is conquered by Spanish troops to begin the Colonial Period