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UNIT 6: Order and Early Societies

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Mayan Kingdoms

Not all complex societies were ordered by centralizing power in the hands of one ruling dynasty. This segment looks at the Mayan kingdoms from about 300 BCE to 900 CE to illustrate this point. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Mayan people, although divided by regional differences and language, were united by a common culture.

In spite of this common culture, however, the Mayan people did not develop a single, centralized imperial structure as the Shang had done. What emerged instead was a group of regional city-states — each ruled by a different king, and each competing with one another for influence. Moreover, the extent of a king's territory was based not on physical space but on the influence that he held over surrounding peoples. If his influence was great, then so was the extent of his realm.

While this aspect of Mayan ordering was certainly different from Chinese methods of ordering, rulers of both societies gained their authority by tracing their lineages to the gods. In Mayan society, moreover, Mayan kings were seen as visionary leaders able to communicate with the gods.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Peter Langer, GROUND VIEW OF PALENQUE (n.d.). Copyright Peter Langer, Associated Media Group.

J. Q. Jacobs, EL CASTILLO AND EL CARACOL (n.d.). Courtesy of J. Q. Jacobs.


J. Q. Jacobs, TEMPLE OF THE SUN, PALENQUE (n.d.). Courtesy of J. Q. Jacobs.

Anonymous, BONAMPAK MURAL (n.d.). Courtesy of Pictures of Record, www.picturesofrecord.com.



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