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The study of ancient societies and the elites’ legitimization of state power have been deliberated amongst many scholars. The elites in ancient complex societies were those that occupied the dominant positions and controlled a disproportionate amount of wealth and power. Their source of power was either objective, such as wealth and factors of production or symbolic, emphasizing ideology and ritual relating to fertility and societal cosmic renewal (Rice, 2009). The basis of this essay is a comparison of ancient societies and their legitimacy to power. The societies that will be focused on are the Classic Maya, the Aztec and the Inca.
“The Kings and royal family had important roles at public ceremonies. They channeled their connection to the Gods through sacrifices, dance, spiritual trances and hallucinogenic enemas” (http://latinamericanhistory.about.com). The Mayans political system didn’t fully develop until the Classic Era. This system had a four-tiered political hierarchy, starting with the kings and his major cities. After the major cities came small groups of vassal city-states.
), the Mayas were able to expand their cultural, ideological and religious systems across Mexico and nearby countries. However, one question is often raised in the field of anthropology: Why do archaeologists consider the Mayan society either a chiefdom or a civilization? According to several researchers of that matter, the Mayan society was a civilization, because they possessed many characteristics exclusive to a state. By examining their intensive agriculture techniques, their centralized government, and their large foods surpluses, it can be seen that they had the main traits required for a society to be called a civilization. Nevertheless, these were not the only traits of a state that the Mayas possessed; they only generated several others, such as large territories, cities, a state religion, social stratification, monumental architecture, advances in knowledge, writing/counting systems and a standing army.
Powerful capital cities, like Tikal and Calakmul, fought for complete control over the Maya world. None of the main cities achieved “lasting control” (Rubalcaba, 139/ 159). Later, during the Terminal Classic Period, the cities in the lowlands decli... ... middle of paper ... ...lus. However, good harvests were preferred for the sake of having enough for the entire population. In conclusion, the Maya lasted almost 3000 years as an empire.
Normally, ancient populations lived in much drier climates, where irrigation practices served as the foundation of societies. The Mayans excelled at pottery, hieroglyphic writing, making calendars, science, and mathematics. The Mayan Civilization, which extended through what is now Guatemala, began declining around AD 900, and researchers are debating as to what might have been the cause of this decline. The golden age of the Mayans occurred at around AD 250. They spread across forty cities, including Altun Ha, Caracol, Lamanai, and Tikal among many others.