the mayans also abandoned their cities and were a small tribe living in the jungle when the europeans arrived.
Could they build temples as good if not better than the Egyptians?
Did they mine for gold & minerals... pirated later, i might add?
Their technology *WAS* already beyond a paganism approach to any religions or militaristic aims.
Small tribe(s), you say?
I am not trying to say the mayans weren't advanced beyond the common depiction of uncivilized savages that is usually associated with american natives, they built, they mined, they made a calendar, and they survived in a jungle full of things that could eat them. It's impressive.
When the europeans arrived in the americas, the mayan cities were abandoned. Empty. That was my point; if they were so advanced why would they leave their established places of living to eek out a meaningless existence (they had no technology left at this point) in the jungle?
I agree, not many ancient civ could survive on open land much less on an rock mountian top. Their astrology and their way of measuring time is still being study by academics today. Also not to mention, probably a richer history than those spanish who came. Sure if you were talking about their warfare techs you are in completely correct they are inferior to them. But they at least kept their knowledge when Europe was just barely coming out of the dark Ages
Europe had been out of the dark ages for hundreds of years, the entire continent was rather prosperous. Not to mention that the dark ages are only called that because there are very few records of what happened after the collapse of rome (thus the time being "dark" to historians).
Every civilization's way of living is still being studied by academia, the greeks, the romans, the persians, the aztecs, the mayans, the inca, the vikings, the chinese (both pre and post han dynasty), the japanese, the pacific islanders, the aboriginees, Everything. Not because it was unbelievably advanced for its time, but because people want to know.
All of these peoples have changed something about the way the world developed (ships design and the vikings for example).
The end of world doesn't care about if the mayans were a billion years ahead of the europeans in astronomy, and we should only care if it is going to happen december 21st 2012. Just a few weeks after the 2012 presidential election in the U.S.