Pre-Columbian CivilizationsThe MayaThe Maya were never a single unified civilization. They were divided into several city-states, much like classical Greece. Around the beginning of the European Middle Ages, the Maya reached a pinnacle of sophistication. They had sprawling cities, step pyramids, and a rich, vibrant culture; they even had an extensive body of literature, with Mayan writing being the only Mesoamerican writing preserved in quantity (the Olmec and Zapotec had writing before the Maya, but not much of it survives). Their cities were probably living places for the nobles and royals, with the poor living in villages surrounding the capitals. At the center was the temple, the aforementioned step-pyramid and likely the tallest building around, where every once in a while they'd sacrifice someone to appease the water god. The Maya are perhaps best remembered for their calendar system, which purportedly predicts the end of the world in 2012; they also used a base-20 number system. The Long Count system was
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Maya civilization, European middle ages, single unified civilization, 52-year dating method