The Mayan civilization inhabited a vast region known as Mesoamerica, the territory now comprised of five southeastern states of Mexico that are, Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo,Tabasco and Yucatan, and Central America, in the current territories of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, with a history of about 3,000 years.
During this long time in this territoryhundreds of dialects spoken today generate about 44 different Mayan languages. Speaking of "Ancient Maya" to refer to the history of one of the most important pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures,because his legacy is a worldwide scientific and astronomical. Contrary to widespread belief, the Mayan civilization never "disappeared." At least, not completely, as their descendants still live in theregion and many of them speak one of the languages of the Mayan family.
Mayan literature illustrates the life of this culture. Works like Rabinal Achi, the Popol Vuh, the various books of ChilamBalam, are proof of that. What it was destroyed by the conquest is the model of civilization that until the arrival of the first Spanish, had generated three millennia of history.
The Spanishconquest of the Maya was accomplished until 1697, with making Tayasal, capital of the Maya Itza and Zacpetén, capital of the Maya in the Petén Ko'woj (modern Guatemala). The last Maya statedisappeared when the Mexican government of Porfirio Diaz in 1901 occupied its capital, Chan Santa Cruz, thus ending the so-called Caste War.
The Mayans were big and impressive buildings from the MiddlePreclassic and cities as Nakbé, El Mirador, San Bartolo, Cival, located in the Mirador Basin in northern Petén, and during the Classic, the well-known cities of Tikal, Quirigua (both the first to bedeclared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 and 1981 respectively) Palenque, Copan, Rio Azul, Calakmul, Comalcalco (built of baked bricks) and Ceibal Cancuén Machaquilá, Dos Pilas, Uaxactún, Altun