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11 -- Part 2: The Americas -- Part 2
The Maya religious practice of performing rituals at specific times spurred further refinements of the calendar.
The Maya created a calendar of eighteen 20-day months and one 5-day month for a total of 361 days.
They used a second calendar with a cycle of 260 days.
The Maya celebrated with a period of feasts, bal-game contests, and religious observing when the two calendars were aligned.
Human sacrifice was included to honor the gods and demonstrate the power of the kings.
The actions of those kings were recorded using a third calen dar, which counted in a linear fashion forward from a specific date.
The Maya created a form of mathematics based on the vigesimal.
The use of the number zero is more unusual than in other number systems.
The Olmecs discovered the zero and used it to figure out their calendar, but the Maya used it as well.
The Maya's mastery of numbers made them masters of abstract knowledge, including astronomy, mathematics, calendric development, and the recording of history.
The Maya abandoned their cultural and ceremonial centers in the eighth and tenth centuries.
Historians and archaeologists attribute the de cline to a combination of failures due to land exhaustion, disease, and constant wars to achieve economic and political goals.
The wars brought destruction and made problems worse.
In bad times, when military, economic, and social conditions deteriorated, they were blamed for the decline in royalty.
During the classic period, growth and imitation of the The Maya were not the only things that created a complex culture.
The great religious center in Monte Alban in southern Mexico was established by Zapotecan-speaking peoples who believed in the wealth of the nobility.
The flowering of a remarkable civilization built by a new people from regions east and south of the Val ey of Mexico can be seen to the north of Monte Alban.
The inhabitants were divided into different social classes.
The houses of palatial splendor were used as residences by the rich and powerful.
Ordinary working people, tradespeople, artisans, and obsidian craftsmen lived in apartment compounds on the edge of the city.
The laborers lived outside the city.
The center of trade and culture was in Teotihuacan.
The Aztecs referred to the pyramids in the center of the city as the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon.
The world's third largest pyramid is the Pyramid of the Sun.
It's not clear what deities were worshiped there, but it's possible that they included the quetzal serpent god, which is worshiped by many people in the Americas.
The great cities of the earlier period were ruled by nature gods and their priests, but now militant gods and warriors are in charge.
The strongest heir to Teotihuacan was the weak union of strong states.
The culture of the pre decessors was admired by the Toltecs and they wanted to preserve it.
They became friends with the Teotihuacan people through intermarriage.
The cultural successor of earlier confederations was the new Mesoamerican confederation.
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