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Hernán Cortés, who had led the Spanish conquest of Mexico, granted a permit to Captains Gonzalo de Alvarado and his brother, Pedro de Alvarado, to conquer this land.Alvarado at first allied himself with the Kaqchikel nation to fight against their traditional rivals the K'iche' (Quiché) nation.Maya influence can be detected from Honduras, Guatemala, Northern El Salvador and to as far as central Mexico, more than After they arrived in what was named the New World, the Spanish started several expeditions to Guatemala, beginning in 1519.Before long, Spanish contact resulted in an epidemic that devastated native populations.
The first capital, Villa de Santiago de Guatemala (now known as Tecpan Guatemala), was founded on 25 July 1524 near Iximché, the Kaqchikel capital city.
The Maya civilization shares many features with other Mesoamerican civilizations due to the high degree of interaction and cultural diffusion that characterized the region.
Advances such as writing, epigraphy, and the calendar did not originate with the Maya; however, their civilization fully developed them.
Until recently, the Preclassic was regarded as a formative period, with small villages of farmers who lived in huts, and few permanent buildings.
However, this notion has been challenged by recent discoveries of monumental architecture from that period, such as an altar in La Blanca, San Marcos, from 1000 BC; ceremonial sites at Miraflores and El Naranjo from 801 BC; the earliest monumental masks; and the Mirador Basin cities of Nakbé, Xulnal, El Tintal, Wakná and El Mirador.