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Unlike the cultures of the Valley of Mexico the only period in which the urban centers were important to the Mayas was during the Classic period from 300 to 900 AD The culture of the Mayas however has little changed from the classic period to the modern period for Maya culture was largely tribal and rural all throughout the Classic period What distinguishes Classic from post-Classic Maya culture was the importance of urban centers and their structures in the religious life of the Mayas and the extent of literate culture The Mayas were never a true urban culture the urban centers were almost entirely used as religious centers for the rural population surrounding them Therfore the decline of the urban centers after 900 AD did not involve titanic social change so much as religious change it is believed by some scholars that the abandonment of the cities was primarily due to religious proselytizing from the north Nevertheless the Classic period saw an explosion of cultural creativity all throughout the region populated by the tribes we call Mayan They derived many cultural forms from the north but also devised many cultural innovations that profoundly influenced all subsequent cultures throughout Mesoamerica Much of Maya culture particularly the religious reckoning of time is still a vital aspect of Native American life in Guatemala and Honduras The Region Classic Maya culture developed in three regions in Mesoamerica By far the most important and most complete urban developments occurred in the lowlands in the central region of southern Guatemala This region is a drainage basin about sixty miles long and twenty miles wide and is covered by tropical rain forest the Mayas in fact are only one of two peoples to develop an urban culture in a tropical rainforest The principal city in this region was Tikal but the spread of urbanization extended south to Honduras the southernmost Mayan city was Copan
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