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Ancient Mayan Civilization

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Ancient Mayan Civilization

The Ancient Mayan Civilization was built upon a rigid social structure based on their religious beliefs. They used a caste social structure in which divisions were based on wealth, inherited rank, privilege, profession, or occupation. Their beliefs were based on the fact that nature elements had the power to either help or harm. The Ancient Mayans used their social structure and beliefs to shape their daily lives.

The Maya were a very religious people. They believed in many gods. All events centred around their religious beliefs. They wanted to stay in favour with the gods. In their belief system, the gods would bring the rain, heal the sick, bring plentiful harvests, and ensure the health and safety of the people if they were honoured. If the gods were angry, they would send drought, famine and disaster to the people. In order to keep the gods happy, they believed that a daily sacrifice of blood was necessary. They would open a wound and let the blood drip onto a paper. The paper would then be burned in an offering to the gods. It was believed that the priests could see the spirits in the smoke.Kings would also give blood offerings, which would please the gods. The Maya had a strong belief in the afterlife. When a king or nobleman died, the Maya people believed that he became one with the gods and would go to live in the sky with them. The Maya worshipped their ancestors as if they were gods. The dead were buried with food, tools, clothing, and whatever would be needed for their journey. Tombs were built to bury their rulers, and sacrifices and special funeral rituals were performed there. Religion was used to explain natural forces that organized the cosmos into an ordered place. Its ideological function was to comfort individuals, unify the society, justify wars, and to demonstrate the authority of ruling elites.

At the top of the society were the ruler, k'ul ahau, his family, their retainers, courtiers, and priests. Others, including the most skilled and influential architects, merchants, and craftsmen were also part of the noble elite, providing their skills were useful to the ruler. In both the priesthood and the ruling class, nepotism was the prevailing system under which new members were chosen.Primogeniture was the form under which new kings were chosen as the king passed down his position to his son.
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