Mayan temple at night. This is El Castillo (the castle), part of the Mayan city of Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico. This structure stands at 22 metres high. The construction of this pyramid was planned so that during the spring equinox (around 21 March), the setting sun casts a shadow of a snake writhing down the pyramid's steps. The Maya were Native American people, originating in Yucatan around 2600 BC. They developed astronomy, calendrical systems and hieroglyphic writing from the ideas of earlier civilizations. Mayan civilization went into decline in AD 900 and came to a close in AD 1200.
© TONY CRADDOCK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Page from the Dresden Codex, Maya manuscript. Artist: Unknown
Page from the Dresden Codex, Maya manuscript. Chromolithograph of a page showing a section of a 'tonalamatl', a sacred season of 260 days. The god Quetalcoatl is depicted several times, including ferrying a woman (centre) and with an axe (bottom left). The original manuscript was probably produced in the first half of the 13th century, and contains tables predicting astronomical occurrences with great accuracy. It was sent to Europe after the Spanish conquest of Central America, and is today one of only four Mayan codices known to have survived.
© Ann Ronan Picture Library / Heritage-Images
Pre-Columbian Art. Maya. Archaeological Site of Copa?n. Alta
Pre-Columbian Art. Maya. Archaeological Site of Copa?n. Altar Q. West side. It was created during the rule of King Yax Pac in 776. There are depicted sixteen leaders of Copan, shown with a full body portrait, four on each side of the monument. Each ruler is seated on a glyph that represents his name. This scene depicts to Yax Pasah, the last ruler of Copan, receiving the torch from the founder of the dynasty, Yax Kuk Mo. Honduras.
© Thaliastock / Mary Evans