The king, or k’ul ahau or sacred ruler, was an absolute monarchy . In the Pre-Classic Maya era, rule was predominantly through a village elder, but gradually the Maya adopted a hierarchical governmental system with rule by a monarch and the aristocracy. While the king ruled by divine right, even he could only go so far.
While there is little evidence of monarchies in early Maya cities, the Classic period saw the rise of one legendary revered king. The rule of K’inich Janaab ‘ Pakal the Great , or Janaab’ Pakal I , of the Late-classic city of Palenque was one of great acclaim.
The Maya believed that their king was given the right to rule by the gods. The leaders of the Maya were called the “halach uinic” or “ahaw”, meaning “lord” or ” ruler “. There were also powerful councils of leaders who ran the government. They were chosen from the class of nobles.
As a sedentary culture, the early Mayan cities developed agriculture and pottery, and began trading with their neighbors. They grew and grew, until they became so large and powerful that they became their own independent governments, called city – states .
Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
The Maya had a system of serfdom and slavery . Serfs typically worked lands that belonged to the ruler or local town leader. There was an active slave trade in the Maya region, and commoners and elites were both permitted to own slaves .
After assembling a record-setting 154 radiocarbon dates, the researchers have been able to develop a highly precise chronology that illuminates the patterns that led up to the two collapses that the Maya civilization experienced: the Preclassic collapse, in the second century A.D., and the more well-known Classic
Scholars have suggested a number of potential reasons for the downfall of Maya civilization in the southern lowlands, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, warfare, shifting trade routes and extended drought. It’s likely that a complex combination of factors was behind the collapse.
The ancient Maya never used coins as money . Instead, like many early civilizations, they were thought to mostly barter, trading items such as tobacco, maize, and clothing.
The Maya believed that when people died, they entered the Underworld through a cave or a cenote. When kings died, they followed the path linked to the cosmic movement of the sun and fell into the Underworld; but, because they possessed supernatural powers, they were reborn into the Sky World and became gods.
Do The Maya Still Exist ? Descendants of the Maya still live in Central America in modern-day Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and parts of Mexico. The majority of them live in Guatemala, which is home to Tikal National Park, the site of the ruins of the ancient city of Tikal.
K’inich Janaab Pakal
The Maya have lived in Central America for many centuries. They are one of the many Precolumbian native peoples of Mesoamerica . In the past and today they occupy Guatemala, adjacent portions of Chiapas and Tabasco, the whole of the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and the western edges of Honduras and Salvador.