Who Were the Mayans and What Did Spanish Explorers Discover When They Arrived In the 1500s?

The Mayans were a Native American people whose culture flourished in Central America and Mexico from A.D. 300 to 900.

They developed a sophisticated society with complex cities, writing, and a precise calendar.

From A.D. 900 to 1200, the Mayan culture mysteriously declined so that when Spanish explorers arrived in the 1500s, they discovered several abandoned Mayan cities and magnificent works of art.

Today, the Maya and their descendants can be found throughout Central America and maintain a unique culture that is the result of the merger of pre-Columbian and post-Conquest cultures.