Maya civilizationYucatan Peninsula and highlands of Chiapas in Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and parts of western Honduras and El Salvador.
CalakmulOne of the two Maya superpowers along with Tikal during the Classic Period. The rivalry with Tikal was intense, with both city-states and their vassals engaging in Cold War and actual wars over many centuries.
Chichen ItzaArguably the most popular Maya archeological site among tourists. It was one of the largest Maya cities and incorporated a diverse range of architectural styles.
EdznaAn impressive site in Campeche state, with a long period of occupation spanning the Preclassic to Postclassic periods.
IzamalA sacred town and place of pilgrimage among the Maya faithful. Two great Maya temples, one dedicated to the sun god Kinich Kak Moo and another to the creator Itzamatul, are still standing and visible from a great distance.
PalenquePalenque was a medium-sized city that contained some of the finest Maya art and architecture. It is one of the most studied Maya archeological sites.
TonináAn aggressive warmongering city-state that was rivals to Palenque for much of its history in the western Maya region.
TulumOne of the best preserved coastal sites and one of the last cities to be constructed. Served as the major port for Coba. Jade, copper, gold, obsidian, salt and textiles were all traded on the shores of Tulum.
UxmalConsidered to have the most characteristic Yucatan architectural style, Uxmal thrived between the 7th and 10th centuries.
XcaretA busy port of navigation and trade on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of the original structures have been enveloped in an ecotourism park.
Altun HaThe most famous artifact discovered at Altun Ha was the "Crown Jewel of Belize", the jade head of the Maya sun god Kinich Ahau. One of the country's greatest national treasures, the jade head appears on nearly all banknotes in Belize.
CaracolAt first a client state of Tikal, Caracol surged in prominence from the early 7th century. During its golden age, Caracol supported a population more than twice that of Belize City, the largest city in modern Belize, and covered a much wider area.
LamanaiFamous for a trio of temples: the Jaguar Temple, Mask Temple and High Temple. All of them have been fairly well preserved though face the ongoing battle of being covered by the dense jungle growth.
LubaantunEmerged during the late Classic Period. What distinguishes Lubaantun from other sites is its unusual architecture, with black slate being the primary material used instead of limestone, and its large collection of small ceramic figurines.
XunantunichThe best known structure at the site is "El Castillo", Belize's second tallest pyramid. Xunantunich thrived for about a century longer than nearby sites.
El MiradorA large preclassic Maya site which was abandoned by the end of the 9th century and never to be inhabited again. Buried deep in the jungle, the remoteness of El Mirador has prevented it from becoming a popular tourist site.
IximcheThe Postclassic capital of the highland Kaqchikel Maya, and focus of the first short-lived Spanish colonial settlement.
Mixco ViejoThe postclassic capital of the highland Chajoma (or eastern Kaqchikel) Maya, which for many years was confused with the capital of the Pocomam Maya. Well restored.
NakbéA major Middle Preclassic site that was important throughout the Maya sphere because of its extensive limestone quarries, a key material used to build many of the grand temples.
Piedras NegrasCompared to other sites, Piedras Negras is known for its sculptural wealth.
QʼumarkajThe most well known late postclassic Maya city that was based in the highlands. Qʼumarkaj was a thriving city until the Spanish conquest. Many structures in the site remain but archaeologists have not done much restoration work on some of the ruins. The core of the city contains a central plaza, many temples, palaces that have been reduced to rubble, and a Mesoamerican ballgame court.
QuiriguaA small Classic period site that became embroiled in the greater political maneuverings of its time and dramatically rebelled against Copan (Honduras), its overlord. The site has an impressive body of sculpted stelae in a similar style to Copan.
Takalik AbajAn important Preclassic and Classic Maya city that had important links with the Olmecs and Teotihuacan, and a large amount of interesting sculpture on display.
TikalThe preeminent Maya city of the Classic Periods and lowlands. Tikal was a political and cultural superpower in its time, extending its influence far beyond.
ZaculeuThe Classic and Postclassic capital of the Mam Maya, which fell to the Spanish after a bloody siege in 1525.
Copán RuinasWas the capital city of a kingdom during the Classical Period for four centuries. On the Mesoamerican southeastern frontier, the city was almost completely surrounded by non-Maya people. Famous for its elaborate stelae.
San AndrésOn the southernmost fringes of the Maya cultural sphere, San Andrés was the capital of a locally important regional capital during the Classic period.
TazumalOn the southernmost fringes of the Maya cultural sphere, Tazumal was a major city from the preclassic all the way to the late postclassic period. It contains some of the oldest metal artifacts in Mesoamerica.
Meats were mostly obtained by hunting though dogs and turkeys may have been domesticated. The most common source of game was white-tailed deer. In the coastal areas, and in the larger inland cities where transportation networks were well developed, seafood was part of the Maya diet.
The Maya were the first people to cultivate the cacao plant and drink an ancient form of chocolate. Avocados were a commonly eaten fruit and used in a variety of dishes.