The Mayans

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Mayan Social Structure

The Mayans had a very complex social structure. Not surprisingly, their social structure is also shaped like a pyramid.

The highest-ranking individual in each city-state is the named Halach Unic. The Halch Unic is the most important government and religious figure in Mayan society. In the Mayan language, the term Halach Unic means, "true man".

The Mayan Social Structure is shaped like a pyramid, like the one showned here... -->

The almehenod were the nobles. They are the members of the powerful ruling elite. The almehenod represented a very small percentage of the total population, but they controlled the government, commerce and warfare. There administrative positions were past down from there parents. To show that they have power and influence of the nobility, they had there homes fronted on the central plaza of the city-state, where they had a perfect view of the great temple pyramid.

The ahkinob, or priests were powerful members of the upper class. The priests had their own hierarchy. At the top was the Ah Kin. Also known as the high priests. Below the high priest were the assistant priests then the local priests who were in charge of religion in the villages.

Priests not only played an important role in ceremonies of the city-state, they also studied the heavens at the day and hour of a child’s birth. Much like astrologers do today. Priests also celebrated marriages and burial. They also ran schools to educate young males of the nobility so that the history of Maya would be perpetuated.

The Ah Chembal Unicab were the commoners, commoners were artists, artisans, traders and minor officials, but the vast majority of commoners were farmers. They were required to help build the city-states. They lived outside the city-states in villages near their fields.

The Ppentacob, or slaves were at the bottom of the Mayan social pyramid. Some Ppentacob were born into slavery, and some became slaves as a punishment for a crime they have committed. Others were captured as prisoners of war. Orphans in Maya became slaves also. Most slaves were criminals because Maya had no jails to put them in.

Tasks that slaves had to do were to grind corn and to work in the most dangerous and heaviest related things in construction. They were also used to carry and trade goods long distances between the highlands and the coast. Slaves also had to paddle the canoes that carried goods to various places along the coast.


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