Archaeologists have uncovered what may be the largest royal tomb found in more than a century of work on Maya ruins in Belize, along with a puzzling set of hieroglyphic panels that provide clues to a “ snake dynasty” that conquered many of its neighbors some 1,300 years ago.
While the city and the sister centers of the Mirador Basin thrived between 300 BCE and the Common Era (CE), apparently, the site was abandoned, as were nearly all other major sites in the area, by about 150 CE.
Maya kings were the centers of power for the Maya civilization. Each Maya city-state was controlled by a dynasty of kings . The position of king was usually inherited by the oldest son.
The Mayans developed a hierarchical government ruled by kings and priests. They lived in independent city-states consisting of rural communities and large urban ceremonial centers. There were no standing armies , but warfare played an important role in religion, power and prestige.
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
Mysterious Decline of the Maya From the late eighth through the end of the ninth century, something unknown happened to shake the Maya civilization to its foundations. One by one, the Classic cities in the southern lowlands were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization in that region had collapsed.
The ancient Mayans built two types of pyramids , those that were meant to be climbed and those that were not. The first type was used for holding sacrificial rituals. The other type was not meant to be touched and was sacred. The pyramids were built so high that their tops could be seen protruding out of the jungle.
Built more than 2,000 years ago— long before archaeologists believed such a place could exist at that era in Maya history— El Mirador was a busy metropolis covering six square miles, home to tens of thousands of people, and filled with grand buildings and plazas. It’s now thought to be the cradle of Maya civilization.
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 .
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.
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.