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Maya Highland

Archaeology of the Maya Highland


The Maya Highland is that part of the Maya civilization that thrived above 800 meters above sea level or so, in the southeastern Central American mountainous regions of Mexico (especially Chiapas), Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The environment of the highlands was quite a bit different from that of the lowlands. The area is dominated by geologically recent mountains, some volcanically active; the tallest of these rises to 14,332 feet above sea level. As a result, the soils are deep and rich, and obsidian is found in abundance. The climate is temperate, with no frost regions, and between 200—3000 mm (~10—120 inches) of rainfall each year. The forests are part deciduous and part evergreen.

Sites in the Maya Highlands

Guatemala: Kaminaljuyu, Zaculeu, Cakchiquels, Santiaga Atitlan


This glossary entry is part of the Guide to the Maya Civilization and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

See the Maya Civilization bibliography, and the entry for the Maya Lowlands for comparison

Webster, David L. 2001. Maya Culture and History. pp. 422-430 in Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America, edited by Susan Toby Evans and David L. Webster. Garland, New York City.

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