Maven, a Yiddish word meaning accumulator of knowledge, began as an attempt to simplify the build processes in the Jakarta Turbine project. There were several projects, each with their own Ant build files, that were all slightly different. JARs were checked into CVS. We wanted a standard way to build the projects, a clear definition of what the project consisted of, an easy way to publish project information, and a way to share JARs across several projects.
“Maven” is really just a core framework for a collection of Maven Plugins.