Faculty Seminar Advisor

John Rector



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Before the conquest of Central America by the Spanish, and before the Aztec empire came into its prime, the Maya dominated the Central American landscape. This civilization stretched from what is today southern Mexico, down through modern day Guatemala, Belize and parts of Honduras. Contrary to popular belief, these people were not a homogeneous group, but various separate city-states with their own political systems and agendas. However, most of these distinct groups seemed to have a good deal in common, namely their religious rituals and beliefs. Polytheistic to a large extent, the ancient Maya had a religious system that modern readers may see as confusing and illogical. They worshiped gods who were at the same time male and female, young and old, associated with both peace and war, and who resided in stones, trees, food and mountains. Though the importance of these gods and locations of worship varied from city-state to city-state, through out the Maya area a great deal of importance was given to three things: caves, water and corn (maize).