Algerian Educators

The Maya Civilization

Part One: Reading                                                                                                                          (14pts)

A) Comprehension                                                                                                                               (07pts)


Read the text carefully then do the activities.

     Recently, I’ve been reading on the Maya civilization. A civilization that thrived for thousands of years and then disappeared, leaving us with only theories on how or why such amazing people ceased to exist... I felt it was something I should write a lens on, share this fascination with others and hopefully inspire people to read into it further…

    The Maya civilization? What is that? Centuries before the European arrived, an advanced civilization flourished in Mesoamerica, a region extending from southern Mexico through Central America. The Maya mastered astronomy, developed calendar systems and elaborate written language, built towering monuments and left behind exquisite art crafts for they were highly skilled potters and weavers. The Golden Age of the Maya civilization existed for nearly 2.000 years. About 7 million Mayan Indians still live in parts of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua and southern Mexico.

    Three particularly intriguing elements of the Maya Civilization are mathematics, architecture and astronomy. The Maya developed their own mathematics using a base number of 20. Numbers were represented by dots and bars. Also, the number system contained the zero, a concept unknown to the Greek and Egyptian civilization.

    Mayan architecture is a fascinating subject. Like the Egyptians, the Maya are well known for their elaborate and highly decorated ceremonial architecture, including temple-pyramids, palaces and observatories to watch stars, all built without metal tools and the use of the wheel.

     Astronomy was one of their greatest achievements. They were accomplished scientists. They knew how many days were in a year. They demonstrated their knowledge of astronomy on their pyramid of Kukulkan which they built their city around. The Maya had 365 steps leading up the pyramid, one for each day of the year. The Maya also developed calendars according to their knowledge of astronomy. Another great achievement is their system of writing. It was based on nearly 800 signs in which each sign represents a full syllable. This style of writing is called hieroglyphs and is still unknown today.

Shortcut from “Maya civilization”


1.    Say whether the following statements are true or false. Correct the false one(s).

a.       The Maya civilization came from Europe.

b.      It flourished in Mesopotamia.

c.       The Maya peoples were considerably advanced in mathematics, astronomy, art and architecture.

d.      They used metal tools and wheels to build their pyramids and palaces.


2.    In which paragraph is it mentioned that the Maya were proficient pottery makers?


3.    Answer the following questions according to the text.

a.       Where did the Maya civilization flourish?

b.      What were their achievements? Give three examples

c.       How was the Maya civilization similar to the Egyptian’s?

d.      How did they demonstrate their knowledge of astronomy?

e.       According to you, why is hieroglyphs still unknown?


4. What do the underlined words refer to in the text?

a) a concept (§3)        b) all (§4)               c)  one (§5)


5. Give a title to the text


B) Text Exploration                                                                                                                              (07pts)

1.        Find in the text words whose definitions follow.

a.       culture and way of life of a society at a particular time and place (§1)

b.       results of work gained by efforts (§5)


2.        Divide the following words into roots and affixes.

        uncivilized, attraction, remarkable, disappearance,









3.        Combine the following pairs of sentences using the connectors between brackets. Make any necessary changes.

a.       The Maya established a great empire. The Europeans conquered them. (before)

b.      They study hieroglyphs. They want to better understand the Maya civilization. (provided that)

c.       The Maya civilization disappeared. The Maya descendants still keep to their traditions.(although)


4.        Re-write sentence “B” so that it means the same as sentence “A”.

1.      A) The writer wondered why such amazing people ceased to exist.

B) The writer wondered, “why…………………………………….?”

2.   A) The Maya divided the solar calendar of 365 days into 18 months of 20 days each.

      B) The solar calendar ………………………………………………………

3.   A) I didn’t see the documentary on Mayan calendars.

      B) I wish …………………………………………..


5.        Classify the following words according to the stressed syllable.

                  development -  achievement – observation - fascinating   

On the 1st syllable

On the 2nd syllable

  On the 3rd syllable




 6.        Fill in the gaps so that the passage make sense.                                                                      

         The Maya had several sophisticated…………… but the one that has worried people is the Maya long count calendar. It …………on August 11, 3114 BC, the day the Maya believed the ………..had begun. Its end date- December 21 of 2012- is not only the winter solstice (the shortest day and longest night of the year), it’s also the day that some people say the sun will ………… with the equator of our galaxy, the milky way, for the first time in 26,000 years.  

Part Two: Written Expression                                                                                                   (06pts)

Choose one of the following topics:


Either topic one:

       Your English e-pal wants some information about the ancient city of Timgad. He wants to write an article for the school journal. Write a letter giving him/her the information. The following notes will help you: Timgad anciently called Thamugadis/ location: the Aures mountains south of Constantine and south east of Batna/ founded by the Roman Emperor Trayan in ad100/ named in honor of his sister Colonia Marciana Trajana Thamugas/ the ruins date from the 2nd century/they include: a forum, a library and a theatre/ Timgad designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982…


Or topic two:

                 Write a composition of about 150 – 200 words on the following topic.

         Many people today do not give importance to ancient sites. How could you contribute to raise those people’s awareness to care about this valuable heritage?


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