Political and Military (Ancient Mayan Civilization)
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Political and Military (Ancient Mayan Civilization)
Political and Military
Ancient Mayan Civilization
By Joselyn Treyes
City states united in a loose confederacy.
Ruled by powerful semi-divine kings called Halach Uinic: Highest authority in
Maya city center
Chiefs and Priests: served as advisors to help carry our government functions
Lord ruled for life; considered god-king Succeeded by son or other close male
Nobles: are own most of the land and are the important merchants (Chiefs,
priests, lesser govern officials Ruled over village hamlets (outside city center)
Gathered taxes, supplies, organized large building projects, led peasant armies.
Priests: Led ritual practices – including sacrifice and offerings. Maintained an
elaborate calendar and transmitted knowledge of writing, astronomy , and
Population largely rural used cities for primarily religious center
In both the priesthood and the ruling class, nepotism was
apparently the prevailing system under which new members were
Primogeniture was the form under which new kings were chosen
as the king passed down his position to his son. After the birth of a
heir, the kings performed a blood sacrifice by drawing blood from his
own body as an offering to his ancestors.
A human sacrifice was then offered at the time of a new king's
installation in office.
To be a king, one must have taken a captive in a war and that
person is then used as the victim in his accession ceremony.
This ritual is the most important of a king's life as it is the point at
which he inherits the position as head of the lineage and leader of
the city. The religious explanation that upheld the institution of
kingship asserted that Maya rulers were necessary for continuance
of the Universe.
The Mayan Military
Wars and major raids were led by the Ahau, or King.
Members of the highest ruling class often were
military and spiritual leaders of the cities and their
capture during battles was a key element of military
It is believed that many of the cities, especially the
larger ones, had large, well-trained armies available
for attack and defense.
It is unknown if the Maya had a professional soldier
class like the Aztecs did.
fought constantly with each other
warriors won tremendous prestige by capturing high- ranking enemies.
Captives were usually made slaves humiliated, tortured, and ritually sacrificed.
It has always been believed that the Maya were peaceful intellectuals and retain
barely mentioned documents or information that its military organization.
But recently, through archaeological excavations have found that the war had a
major role in their culture. Although they were not as aggressive and bloodthirsty
as the Aztecs, the Maya had warriors who claimed their power in the area and
who plundered other tribes for offerings to their gods. They also had the ball game
where warriors and involved human sacrifices.
In terms of its form of warfare, it is known that using padded armor that were
painted black to intimidate their enemies.