General Maya description Mayan symbols have had a rich history across Central America. Spreading across a vast territory that stretched from Mexico to Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras, Mayan symbols and glyphs have been found in a vast array of locations. These symbols are crucial to understanding their religion, everyday life, and even their economic and social structure. The earliest known Mayan symbols have been dated to 250 BC, although some think it could have originated even before that. Mayan hieroglyphics have been found carved on stone and bone, painted on pottery and other methods. Mayans were one of the only ancient civilizations that developed their own complex writing system. Alongside this, they also developed their own comprehensive calendar as well as a zodiac system. Unfortunately, though, many of these elements of the Mayan culture and empire have been destroyed over time, leading to confusion in understanding the true meanings of these symbols. After the Spanish conquering of the Maya empire in the 16th century, the Maya were forced to give up their language and religion. The Spanish forced the population into converting to Christianity and communicating in Spanish. After the Conquest, much of the glyphs disappeared, along with any way to interpret their meanings. Over time, researchers have decoded enough that there are now definitions for at least 90% of the existing glyphs.
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