Classic Maya Religion: Beliefs and Practices of an Ancient American People

Though difficult to decipher, Maya religion permeated a complex ancient world with an overriding sense of the sacral nature of all things and reveals much about how those people lived and why they vanished.

In the last five years, dramatic advances in deciphering ancient Maya writing have unveiled the Classic Maya as, above all, a people of faith. The Maya gloried in their closeness to the supernatural. They worshiped many gods, built temples to house images of supernatural beings, developed complex theologies of spirit and matter, and envisioned a world permeated by living essences. Now many of these beliefs and practices lie open to our gaze. Decipherment of Maya hieroglyphic writing allows us to begin to understand the Classic Maya concept of the nature of human existence, their system of morality, and their religious practice and how such practices melded with political or dynastic concerns.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 38:4
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