What was Mayan government known for?


The Mayan government type is considered to be an absolute monarchy. The civilization consisted of independent city-states led by kings, who had unlimited power. The Mayan governmental structure was a hierarchical system comprising the representatives of the nobles and priesthood and relied on slavery.


The ancient Mayan civilization was one of the most powerful Central American societies of the pre-Hispanic times. The history and culture of the Maya people are usually divided into three main periods: the Preclassic (c. 2000 BC – 250 AD), Classic (c. 250-900 AD), and Postclassic (c. 950-1539 AD) periods.

Mayan civilization flourished in the first millennium AD, during the Classic period, that was a time of the state’s heyday of the socio-political organization. They also managed to achieve excellence in architecture, sculpture, and painting.

During the Classic period, from 250 to 900 AD, the Mayan civilization consisted of numerous independent city-states located in the Yucatan Peninsula, Central America. Nowadays, the territory is the region that of modern southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and El Salvador. The city-states were ruled by god-kings who believed themselves to be gods.

Kings of the city-states were seen as the centers of the universe that were the only ones that could communicate with the supernatural world. It was the king who was responsible for political leadership and made all the political decisions. The kings were mostly men and succeeded by their sons.

The kings often took political advice from their wives, who influenced on their political decisions. Therefore, the kings’ power was hereditary, lifelong, and unlimited, which meant that the Mayan government type was an absolute monarchy.

Usually, the core of a city-state consisted of large plazas surrounded by the massive temple, pyramids, and palaces of the ruling elites. The temples were the funerary monuments for some of the most famous rulers of the Maya world. There were many structures around the temples, such as palaces or residences of the kings, queens, and their extended families.

Under every king, there was a bureaucracy that had a hierarchy with distinct powers and responsibilities. The Mayan government and social structure were administered by the bureaucracy, which included nobles, and priesthood. Noblemen lived near the temples and helped kings run cities. They were served as advisors to the Mayan lords. They were also in charge of military issues and led armies during the war.

Priests were powerful and played a significant religious, as well as political role, because they maintained favor with the god. The Mayan believed that their lives were influenced by a series of natural and supernatural forces. The priests were considered by the Maya to be the ones who could impact on the supernatural world. The priesthood was in charge of religious ceremonies, calculated positions of stars, and treated sick.

Merchants and artisans played a significant role for Mayans because they were responsible for the trade and production of household objects. Merchants traded salt, fish, cotton, and other things. Artisans produced sculptures, codices, and murals to pay tribute to the gods.

The ancient Mayan government also relied on the system of slavery. Slaves recruited to do difficult or undesirable tasks like grinding maize. They sometimes were killed and buried with their masters.

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