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Ancient America
Maya 101



Maya 101
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.92

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    city-state, heyday, picture-like, city-states, altogether, present-day, mathematics, religion, irrigation, mainly, plaza, upon, kingdom, mystery, history, record
     content words:    Central America, Every Mayan


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Maya 101
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Once upon a time, there was a group of people called the Mayas. The Mayas had an amazing culture. Back in their heyday, they controlled a large part of Central America. Their lands included present-day Belize and Guatemala. It covered a portion of Mexico, too.
 
2     The Mayas began to move into Central America as early as 1500 B.C. At first, they only had small villages. But over time, they started to build big cities. A Mayan city was like a small kingdom. Because it had its own rulers, we call it a city-state. Every Mayan city-state shared the same religion. Its people used the same written language. They followed the same calendars. And they designed their city-states the same way. For example, a typical Mayan city-state would have at least one plaza, one temple, and one ball court. Most of the buildings were made out of stones. Some of them even looked like pyramids!
 
3     Often times, the Mayas from different city-states would trade with each other. But their main activity was still farming. The Mayas grew a lot of things, like corn, beans, and squash. They liked to use a farming technique called "slash-and-burn." This involved cutting down all the trees in a field and setting them on fire. Once the area was cleared, the Mayas then planted their crops. When using this method, they usually would not bother digging canals for irrigation. They would simply let nature take care of everything.

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