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We start with the study of certain Artin-Schreier families. Using coding theory techniques, we determine a necessary and sufficient condition for such families to have a nontrivial curve with the maximum possible number of rational points over the finite field in consideration. This result produces several nice corollaries, including the existence of certain maximal curves; i.e., curves meeting the Hasse-Weil bound. We then present a way to represent two-dimensional (2-D) cyclic codes as trace codes starting from a basic zero set of its dual code. This representation enables us to relate the weight of a codeword to the number of rational points on certain Artin-Schreier curves via the additive form of Hilbert's Theorem 90. We use our results on Artin-Schreier families to give a minimum distance bound for a large class of 2-D cyclic codes. Then, we look at some specific classes of 2-D cyclic codes that are not covered by our general result. In one case, we obtain the complete weight enumerator and show that these types of codes have two nonzero weights. In the other cases. We again give minimum distance bounds. We present examples, in some of which our estimates are fairly efficient.