This segment blends the faces of modern day Maya in the Yucatan with recreation actors in ancient Maya costumes, and teaches a final lesson about Mayan "collapse". The Maya are still in the Yucatan. It's just that their existence has changed.

  • The Maya thrived in Central America thousands of years ago. Anthropologists and archaeologists thought Maya culture originated in the northern reaches of what is now Guatemala about 600 BCE, and migrated north to the Yucatan Peninsula of present-day Mexico beginning around 700 CE.

    Throughout the film Quest for the Lost Maya, a team of anthropologists discovers the Maya may have been in the Yucatan as far back as 500 BCE. This new evidence indicates the Maya had a very complex social structure, distinctive religious practices, and unique technological innovations that made civilization possible in the harsh jungle of the Yucatan.

    This segment of Quest for the Lost Maya explores the so-called collapse of Mayan civilization. Despite popular belief, the Maya remain an important part of the human geography of the Yucatan.

    1. Did the Maya disappear? Explain.

      No, there are millions of Mayans and Mayan speakers still inhabiting Central America today.

    2. What are some of the challenges Maya peoples have had to overcome?

      The Mayan people have endured environmental catastrophepolitical decline, and later, European conquest.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ancient Adjective

    very old.

    anthropologist Noun

    person who studies cultures and characteristics of communities and civilizations.

    archaeologist Noun

    person who studies artifacts and lifestyles of ancient cultures.

    civilization Noun

    complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Key Components of Civilization
    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    evidence Noun

    data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

    human geography Noun

    the study of the way human communities and systems interact with their environment.

    jungle Noun

    tropical ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    Maya Noun

    people and culture native to southeastern Mexico and Central America.