Many places (e.g., here) state that the Mayans thought the Earth was flat.

At the same time, Mayan astronomical knowledge is impressive. They made accurate computations of the length of a solar year and of planets like Venus. Is it really possible, with such advanced knowledge of astronomy, that Mayans believed the Earth was flat?

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    With up to 2 million people, it seems likely that the one culture contained multitudes of opinions and beliefs... – Oddthinking May 10 '16 at 0:46
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    @Oddthinking Sheer number of people doesn't mean a multitude of beliefs. Because it has 350m people doesn't mean the modern US contains a huge multitude of opinions on whether the Earth is flat or round. – DJClayworth May 11 '16 at 12:12
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    @DJClayworth: Ha! Good point. I just get my guard up when people say "Australian Aborigines believe that..." or "Jews believe that...", and I am worried this might revolve around a similar false assumption. – Oddthinking May 11 '16 at 13:25

The anthropological consensus does appear to be that the Mayans believed the earth was flat - at least as a generalization. Sifting reliable sources from the hundreds of pages of woo is extremely difficult, but here are some relatively good references I have found:

I'm aware that the first link is in the question, but since it's a reference from a reliable source it deserves to be included.


The Mayas can and did think the world was flat, and not only that, they thought it was a straight plane in all directions. In what is now modern day Brazil, they attempted to prove this by constructing tall pyramids as high as modern technology would allow. They did this all over the country.

The theory was: if the world was flat, then the tops of pyramids built long distances from one another would still be visible to one another through binoculars. When these experiments failed, the Mayans realized they were wrong. Around this time, the Spaniards had come over across the Atlantic with proof that the world was in fact round, and Mayans started practicing European science.

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    This needs references. – user22865 May 10 '16 at 6:42
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    Err...binoculars? – DJClayworth May 10 '16 at 13:18
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    Too bad there weren't any tall natural features around to save them the effort. – Oddthinking May 10 '16 at 14:27
  • @DJClayworth Maybe smeeb meant tower openings? overly optimistic – called2voyage May 12 '16 at 16:03
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    Mayans in Brazil? – user32316 Sep 19 '16 at 17:50

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