The Political Structure of the Maya in the Late Classic Period

1731 Words7 Pages
Many advances in archeological and epigraphic research has shed new light on Maya civilization, however, there is still much discussion on the political structure and how it was formed. The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization noted for its advanced form of civilization. It reached its highest state of development during the Classic period which ranges from approximately 200-900 AD. Early in the Classic period (292-434 AD), there were several city-states found throughout the Maya lowland region with no defined hierarchy of settlement or regional capitals. However, this seemed to shift around 514 AD with four major capitals forming in dispersed regions throughout the Maya lowlands (Scarre & Fagan, 2008). It is in these regions that emblem glyphs have given us a tremendous amount of insight into the political organization at this time. It appears that the Maya political structure during the late Classic period consisted of a hierarchical structure in which four major ruling capitals each controlled several smaller multi-center polities. Maya kings were at the heart of political power during the Classic period, with each major capital being ruled by a dynasty of kings. Maya lords used the power of their office to stress their close identity with mythical ancestral gods and thus assert their authority over others (Scarre & Fagan, 2008). Of course, they had their obligation to their people, which was to gather and redistribute commodities, so that all levels of society had access to goods and merchandise. Thus, the size of a polity was limited in size by its ability to gather and redistribute goods from the people of the capital as well as the neighboring cities that were controlled by the ruling capital. Each regional capital posse... ... middle of paper ... ...l Change. Eds. C. Renfrew and J. F. Cherry, pp. 93-108. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. HASSIG, R. (1992a). War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica. University of California Press. Berkeley. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman. MARCUS, J. (1976). Emblem and State in the Classic Maya Lowlands: An Epigraphic Approach to Territorial Organization. Dumbarton Oaks. Washington, D.C. Science 180: 911- 916. MARTIN, S. and N. GRUBE (1995). Maya Superstates. Archaeology 48 (6): 41-46. SCHELE, L. and D. FREIDEL (1990). A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya. William Morrow. New York. SCHELE, L. and P. MATHEWS (1991). Royal Visits and Other Intersite Relationships Among the Classic Maya. In Classic Maya Political History: Hieroglyphic and Archaeological Evidence. Ed. T. P. Culbert, pp. 226-252. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

More about The Political Structure of the Maya in the Late Classic Period

Open Document