Location & Time Location: Mesoamerica (Included Guatemala, Southern Mexico, Northern Belize, and the Western Honduras. Time: 2600 BCE-1300 CE It rose prominently around 250 AD
Administrative Institutions One noble family was believe to have been the direct descendants from of the Hero Twins (gods), and that gave them justification to rule over each city. The rulers appointed a council of elders and warriors to help enforce laws or act as judges. City-states thought of themselves as the same people – same language, same gods, same laws, and same myths
Role of City-States as Trade, Political, Religious Centers The cities were laid out with religion in mind, temples were the center of the cities, and religion brought people closer together. Large cities had populations up to 120,000 and even smaller cities had significant populations. Large cities were center for long distance trade (Yucatan).
Patriarchy Men – had power to be public officers, were first in household, were socially superior Women – could not enter a temple, had to eat after men, were not allowed to look men directly in the eye Marriage – women were allowed to divorce a man and then marry again a year later.
Military Supplies: Used six main weapons: bow and arrow, knife, spear, atlatl (spear thrower), club (maquahuitl), sickle Many tools were made out of obsidian because there was an abundance of it and it was sharp. Had excessive amounts of surplus food allowing them to sustain long, intense warfare.
Military Soldiers & Enemies Peasants were forced to participate in warfare (rent and tribute system) Commoners were able to move up in social status because of warfare. Mayans took enemy prisoners for sacrifice and to gain their strength through consumption of their heart Sons of nobles were expected to enter societies as they progressed through military rank
Trade Infrastructure: Traded using canoes and walked with large baskets strapped to their backs (No animals to pull carts) Traded mostly internally, so they did not have the capabilities to travel long distances Bartering System
Trade Currencies They did not have money or a set currency, but they traded goods. They mostly traded one on one with other members of the community and with other cities from the empire because different regions specific resources. Long Distance Trade was mostly used for commodities such as Quetzal feather, turquoise, jade, and especially cacao beans.
Social Hierarchy Peasants: Men hunted and farmed, women tended to chores around the house and so did their children. This was the largest class. They did all the hard labor and farming. They had no education and produced the wealth for the empire, but did not get to enjoy it. King, nobles, priests, artisans, merchants, peasants, and slaves.
Rent and Tribute System The peasants, merchants, and artisans were forced to “give” labor, resources, and food to the higher classes for public work and they had to to fight in wars. This was a big part of the economy because they were so successful with their farming (had a lot of surplus food) leaving about 150 days each year to participate in public work projects. They did this because they believed the upper classes descended from the gods.
Collapse (1300 C.E.) Environmental Theories: - Mayans exhausted environment to the point where it could not support a larger population - An extremely long period of drought may have wiped out the Classic Maya civilization.
Collapse Other Theories: Warfare among competing city-states led to the break down of the dynastic power in the Mayan city-states. Stature of the holy lords diminished, thus causing chaos among their rituals and ceremonies.