Maya Civilization

The Pre-Columbian Belize history is the period from initial indigenous presence, across millennia, to the first contacts with Europeans - the Pre-Columbian or before Columbus period - that occurred on the region of the Yucatán Peninsula that is present day Belize. Belize's history begins with the Paleo-Indians. They were nomadic people that arrived in the Asia to the Americas migration across the frozen Bering Strait, perhaps as early as 35,000 years ago. In the course of many millennia, their descendants settled in and adapted to different environments in the Americas, creating many cultures in North America, Central America, and South America. The Mayan culture emerged in the lowland area of the Yucatán Peninsula and the highlands to the south, in what is now southeastern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, and Belize. Many aspects of this culture persist in the area despite nearly half a millennium of European domination. All evidence, whether from archaeology, history, ethnography, or linguistic studies, points to a cultural continuity in this region. The descendants of the first settlers in the area have lived there for at least three millennia. In the tenth century, Mayan society suffered a severe breakdown. Construction of public buildings ceased, the administrative centers lost power, and the population declined as social and economic systems lost their coherence. Some people continued to occupy, or perhaps reoccupied, sites such as Altún Ha, Xunantunich, and Lamanai. Still, these sites ceased being splendid ceremonial and civic centers. The decline of Mayan civilization is still not fully explained. Rather than identifying the collapse as the result of a single factor, many archaeologists now believe that the decline of the Maya was a result of many complex factors and that the decline occurred at different times in different regions. Increasing information about Mayan culture and society helps explain the development, achievements, and decline of their ancient civilization and suggests more continuities in Mayan history than once had been considered possible