Ancient Mayan Houses



The ancient Maya lived in a vast area covering parts of present-day Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and the western areas of Honduras and El Salvador.

The basic Maya structure was the hay huts which housed most of the Mayan population. The walls were made of mud or stone and were covered with wooden poles. These poles were no taller than 2.20 meters.

There are two types of roofs which are commonly found with Mayas. First, the sticking-out stone, dome roof, and second, the concrete covered beam roofs of lime.

Ancient Mayan Houses

Ancient Mayan Contruction Material

Ancient Mayan homes were simple in construction. The walls were made of poles and plastered earth. The sharply pitched roof was made of thatched palm leaves supported by beans and saplings. Partitions divided the house into two sections. The rear half was a sleeping quarters and the front was used for everyday activities.

Shelters in ancient Mayan society were distinguished by status. The elites lived in stone abodes while farmers lived in huts made of hay and wood.

The floor in a Maya home was made of sascab, a foundation of gravel covered with white packed soil. The walls had a wood matrix that was covered with adobe, and then whitened with lime. Occasionally a house would have wooden baseboards.



Mayans constructed beautiful stone cities and religious temples without the use of metal tools or the wheel, since these tools had not yet been discovered by their culture. Much about Mayan culture is lost forever.

Nevertheless, archaeologists, people who study the physical remains of past cultures, continue to reveal new aspects of this ancient civilization through present-day excavations or scientific digs.

Aside from these technical characteristics are many ancient customs that are linked to Maya homes. One such example is marriage: when two young sweethearts decide to wed, the entire community usually joins together to build their new home.

There was very little furniture. Mayans slept on beds, which were low platforms made of a wooden frame filled with woven bark. Dead Mayans were buried under the floors of their houses.

Ancient Mayan Architecture

Housing varies among the different regions and groups of Maya. The Mam, who live in southwestern Guatemala and southeastern Chiapas, live in houses with adobe walls, small shuttered windows, roofs of tile or corrugated metal, and a floor of hard-packed dirt.

The K'iche' in the Guatemalan highlands build rectangular houses with double-pitched tile roofs and walls of adobe, thatch supported by boards or poles, or other materials. Increasing numbers live in more modern homes built from brick or lumber with tin roofs.



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