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ANCIENT MAYA CIVILIZATION

CATEGORY
1. POLITICAL SYSTEM

DESCRIPTION
ORGANIZATION AND POLITICAL LEADER
Mayan political life revolved around citystates. At some point, Mayan society became
highly hierarchical, and the city-states of
Mayan civilization were ruled by an
aristocratic ruling class with a king at its head.
Each city had its own king and ruling class,
and the king was often considered either a
god or the chief representative of the gods on
Earth.
Throughout the Mayan period, these citystates warred with one another, making allies
with other city-states in opposition to one

2. SOCIAL STRUCTURE

another.
How it is developed?

The social structure in the Maya Empire was set.


It was very difficult to move upwards.
Status was usually hereditary.
It has a very rigid social system in which you are born into
a social position and cannot leave that position. In a caste

system you are required to marry within your own caste


Women, however, could be involved in government,
economics, and religion, as well as responsible for hearth,
home, and children.
Maya women could not marry outside their social class.
3. SOCIAL CLASS

Social Class divided into three groups:


1) The upper caste was composed of rulers, nobles and
priests.
2) The middle caste were businessmen, merchants and
soldiers.
3) The lower caste was made up of farmers and slaves.

4. ECONOMY/TRADE
SYSTEM

The Mayans built an impressive agricultural society which led to a


strong traditional economy and the development of trade.
What type of economy did the Mayans have?
Mayan farmers produced crops such as, corn, beans, and
squash.
Trade in agriculture products was the basis for the
strong Mayan economy.
Products such as feathers, honey, and cocoa were traded
across Central America.
What did the Mayans use for money?
The Maya did have a currency system, and used cacao
beans, gold, copper bells, jade, and oyster shell beads as

5. TECHNOLOGIES

forms of money.
TECHNOLOGIES
CREATED A VARIETY OF WEAPONS INCLUDING SPEARS,
CLUBS AND BLADES.
THEY USED BRITTLE MINERALS SUCH AS OBSIDIAN
AND CHERT.
SUCCESSFULLY MADE BOWS AND ARROWS, THOUGH
THESE TOOLS WERE RARELY USED.
stone age culture, maya did not use tools of iron or

bronze. WITH VERY LITTLE TO NO METAL.


Use of specialized jade tools, which are harder than
iron, should provide a positive rationale to provide a
new nomenclature based on their technological
achievements.
The Maya should be given a new nomenclature:
TECHNOLITHIC.
Many cities, including Kaminaljuyu, had sophisticated
waterways, making use of hydraulic technology to
successfully supply water throughout the sprawling
communities. This allowed a true innovation within
Mesoamerica as a whole.
Another new invention was the chocolate drink. Some
people say that the Mayans invented the very first
chocolate drink. The drink was only served to newly
married couples and to Royalty.

The invention of what we call today "tear gas". They


made tear gas by getting a large amount of chilis and
then they set them on fire.

6. KNOWLEDGE/
INVENTIONS/WRITINGS

KNOWLEDGE
They were skilled at mathematics
Created a numerical system, based upon the numeral 20.
Independently developed the concept of zero and
positional value.
INVENTIONS
Invented the most advanced form of writing, known as
glyphs. Glyphs are used to describe or represent a word,
sound or even a syllable through pictures or symbols. The
Maya used about 700 different glyphs, by which 80% of
the language is now understood.
They used new inventions like embroidery and weaving to
make their clothes. How they looked was their reputation
in the Mayan civilizations.
They even invented a ball game. It is said that the
winning team (usually the professional players) of the ball
game would get loser's jewels. The losers (they usually
were captives caught from the war or a professional team
from another city) got nothing but their jewels taken away
if they were a professional team. The captives always lost
because they were already beaten and barely fed and from
that they had no strength anymore. After the captives lost
the game, they were sacrificed.
WRITINGS

Had writing tools, usually crafted from animal hair and

feathers.
They also wrote books (or codexs) about almost
7. RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

everything; gods, daily life, new leaders and more.


WHAT THEY BELIEVED?
Believed on the notion that virtually everything in the
world contains kuh, or sacredness. Kuh and kuhul,
similar terms which are used to explain the spirituality of

all inanimate and animate things, describe the most divine


life force of existence.
Maya belief establishes the creation and sanctity of human
beings, the earth, and all things sacred. This divine
sanctity can be translated into Maya creation myths as
well.
RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
rituals of human sacrifice, and the building of elaborate
pyramidical temples.
GOD
worship of nature gods (especially the gods of sun, rain
and corn), a priestly class, the importance of astronomy
and astrology.
8. ART AND

ART

ARCHITECTURE
Maya art history was also spurred by the enormous
increase in sculptural and ceramic imagery, due to
extensive archaeological excavations, as well as to
organize looting on an unprecedented scale.
ARCHITECTURE
Among the structural ensembles are:

'Triadic pyramids' consisting of a dominant structure


flanked by two smaller inward-facing buildings, all
mounted upon a single basal platform;

'E-groups' consisting of a square platform with a low fourstepped pyramid on the west side and an elongated
structure, or, alternatively, three small structures, on the
eastern side;

'Twin pyramid complexes', with identical four-stepped


pyramids on the east and west sides of a small plaza; a
building with 9 doorways on the south side; and a small
enclosure on the north side housing a sculpted stela with
its altar and commemorating the king's performance of
a k'atun-ending ceremony.

In the palaces and temple rooms, the 'corbelled vault' was

often applied.
9. RIVER SYSTEM

RIVERS
Permanent rivers and lakes are virtually nonexistent and
only cenotes (large sinkholes filled with rainwater),
provide precious water.
The southern lowlands consist of rainforest and savannas
where lakes and rivers are fed by the mighty Usumacinta
River.
The lowlands are a limestone shelf bordered on the north
and west by the Gulf of Mexico and on the east by the
Caribbean Sea.
The northern lowland climate is hot, and the rainy season,
from May through October, often brings insufficient

10. CITY-STATE

rainfall.
Maya cities were not planned out in detail like the cities of
the Aztecs.
Each city was home to the king and was also home to
large pyramids that served as temples to their gods.
CITIES OF MAYA:
1. El Mirador(6th century BC-1st century AD) - one of the
first large city-states of the Maya civilization with over
100,000 people. Archeologists have found three large
temple pyramids: El Tigre (180 ft.), Los Monos (157 ft.),
and La Danta (250 ft.). The city was abandoned in150 AD,
then people moved back around 700 AD.
2. Kaminaljuyu(1200 BC to 900 AD)- a major city-state
located in Guatemala highlands and was a major trade
location for products such as cacao, fruits, pottery, and
obsidian.
3. Tikal- one of the most powerful city-states during the
Classic period. The city 60,000 and 70,000 inhabitants and
had six large pyramids. The tallest pyramid is called
Temple IV(230 ft.).
4. Teotihuacan -wasn't city-state, but was a major city-state
located in the Valley of Mexico. It was so powerful that it
influenced Maya culture, trade, and politics during the
Classic period.

5. Caracol - began as a client state to the powerful city-state


of Tikal, located in Cayo District, Belize. At around the
year 600 AD, Caracol broke away from Tikal and became
a power city-state of its own. It covered 200 km2 and may
have a population of 180,000.
6. Chichen Itza - the dominant Maya city-state during the
end of the Classic period and the Post-classic period. the
home of famous structures including: El Castillo, Great
Ball Court and Temple of the Warriors

References:
http://www.timemaps.com/civilization/Mayan-civilization
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_social_classes
http://mayas.mrdonn.org/socialstructure.html
http://www.theoldexplorer.com/index.php/maya-technology
http://mayantimeline.blogspot.com/p/science-and-technology.html
http://www.criscenzo.com/jaguarsun/region.html
http://www.ducksters.com/history/maya/sites_and_cities.php