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The Positive Side of the Civilization of Maya

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Mayan Civilization

Understanding the features that make up civilizations is critical to understanding and learning history. Whether ancient or modern, these features, although varying slightly in a given civilization, demonstrate the many commonalities that groups of people share, regardless of them ever having come in contact with one another. Some features that make the Mayans a civilization include, its great city infrastructures like the cities of Tikal and Chichen Itza and also its religion which was polytheistic and performed live sacrifices. The Maya also had a strong government consisting of 100+ city states and a social class system ranging from King to Slave. Lastly, the step-like pyramids which were built as temples are considered to be public works/places of worship, along with this comes a system of writing consisting of 8,000+ symbols.

The Mayans, through their work shows us the major features that make it a civilization. Firstly, through their immense cities and the complexity of their religion. The more prominent cities of the Mayans were Chichen Itza and Tikal, these cities at the time were almost several times larger than its European counterpart. A typical city was rarely laid out into a neat grid and was split up into either a rural community or a large ceremonial center, these cities were usually built along side pyramids, palaces and house mounds built around a courtyard. The Mayan Religion was polytheistic and based around nature and astrology, some of their gods are Itzamná (Fire/Earth) and Kukulcán (Feathered Serpent). The Mayans also believed in live human and animal sacrifices because they thought that this was the only means of communication with the gods and a way for them to receive blessings.

Secondly, they show us their strong central government which was ruled by kings as independant city states and their social classes which ranged from Kings to Slaves. At the peak of the Mayan Empire, it was split into 100+ independent city states, each being ruled by a king who was thought of as a communicator between the gods and the people. This type of government was ruled by the Kings, the Nobles who were elected onto a council and the priests who were sought after for decision making advice. With every civilization comes a social class, the Mayans were no different. Here the social class was divided into 5 groups; The King, a Council, the Nobles, the Merchants/Artisans, and the Commoners (Slaves & Peasants).

Lastly, the Mayans show us their public works such as the step-like pyramids and their complex system of writing consisting of 8,000+ symbols. The Mayans main public work included the building of over 600 step-like pyramids and what is now thought of as the best roadways in the Ancient World. These step-like pyramids are thought to be built by limestone block and used for both sacrificial rituals and ceremonies. Lastly, the Mayans had a very complex system of writing which consisted of intricate symbols and hieroglyphs. This system of writing included over 8,000 symbols which were used in day to day life to express emotion or write down history.

The Mayan Civilization which lasted from about 1800 BC to 900 AD showed as all the features that a society needs in order to be considered a civilization. First, the Mayans had two prominent cities; Tikal & Chichen Itza, which at the time were larger than any European city and also had a complex, polytheistic religion which performed both live human and animal sacrifices. Secondly, this Empire had 100+ city states which were ruled by the Kings and a select group of nobles, and like every other civilization had a social order which was in the Order of King to Commoners (Peasants and Slaves). Lastly, the Mayans showed us great public works such as step-like pyramids which served as a place of worship and a system of writing so that they could convey to future generations their history and customs.

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