Preclassic (about 1800 BC to 250 AD)
During this period the features which give Maya culture its distinctive character are structured, with various influences from other Mesoamerican groups, such as the Olmecs from the Mexican Gulf Coast. The emergence of agriculture allows the development of the first villages. Specific constructions for religious worship are built, society becomes hierarcherized and occupations diversify.
Classic (250 AD to 900 AD)
Through the increase in population, the settlements become urban centers having a well organized religious and civil power structure, which is governed by a ruling class invested with sacred powers. In this flourishing period scientific knowledge and the arts are developed. Towards the IX century, a historical process is unleashed, evident in the gradual abandonment of many of the great cities of the central area.
Postclassic (900 AD to 1800 AD)
A great cultural change occurs in the north of the Yucatán peninsula, brought about by the arrival of outside groups. During this period many activities are secularized, due to the predominance of militarism; contacts with various populations increase and commerce acquires great importance. New gods and cults are introduced, the study of science decreases and new artistic styles arise.