The Mayans’ experience presented an opportunity to learn about the Maya civilization, culture, and political life. Interactions with locals provided vital insights into Maya’s rise to cultural and political sophistication. For instance, learning about the Olmec’s influence on the Maya culture established an understanding of their settlement area at the Yucatan Peninsula base. Some of the Mayans’ cultural gains included their grasp of the number system and the famous Mayan calendar. Upon settlement, the Maya started farming to feed their rising population, establish an economic system, and organize politically as a way of protecting their territory (Berger et al., 2016). Some of the crops farmed included cassava, squash, beans, and maize, among other farm activities that included cattle rearing. The construction of cities signified their sophistication, reinforced by the monumental pyramids that symbolized their civilization.
The high population within cities signified a flourishing civilization supported by a countryside committed to farming. Mayan leaders had the incentive to rule through the vibrant city life than establish a quest for unification covering the entire Maya area. For instance, city life and farming activities’ management and sustenance required more attention than expanding their territories through conquest (History.com, 2020). The provision of public amenities such as water for farming using water management projects and terracing hillsides for farming proved precious for the Maya than political conquest. Although lacking in fame and political stature, Mayan leaders disseminated vital decisions for their people’s survival. Notable tombs built in their honor signified the respect gained symbolized by luxury items such as cacao, jade statutes, and feathers (Berger et al., 2016). Besides, the tombs had artistic symbolism marked on them that included pictographs and numerical annotation. Practices linked to celebrating their leaders revealed cultural sophistication that captures elaborate engagement with the supernatural.
Religious ceremonies witnessed included the Maya society’s worship of various gods with a designation to natural phenomena such as the moon, sun, rain, and crops such as maize. The kings or leaders offered guidance around their gods’ celebration and their respective religious ceremonies and rituals. In one of the religious traditions celebrating the sun, religious practices included human sacrifices where bloodletting appeased the gods to help turnaround droughts. Moreover, the euphoria generated by the rituals’ intensity triggered a sense of collectivism among the Maya people that made the ritual worthwhile. The opportunity to experience such religious rituals demonstrated a rising society’s complexities in ancient times, where religious symbolism provided a social benefit (Munson et al., 2014). Religious iconography around the rituals and ceremonies revealed the cultural practices’ significance in defining the Maya society. Important figureheads such as Mayan kings led in the sacrifices to reinforce their stature as holy lords.
The experience demonstrated that ancient societies provide a glimpse of cultural evolutions across millennia into the modern era. The political practices prevail in the modern era as a way of organizing communities into socioeconomic blocks. The level of sophistication in political governance has surpassed the Mayan experience, mostly when large regional blocs agree on establishing expansive national identities, unlike the Maya. Similarities emerge when analyzing religious practices that still provide a sense of community in the modern era. The elaborate rituals exist but lack human sacrifices and the use of kings as interceding lords. The experience provided insight on understanding modernity concerning cultural transitions marked by early civilizations of human societies,
Berger, Eugene, et al. World history – cultures, states, and societies to 1500. Georgia: University of North Georgia Press, 2016.
History.com. Maya. History. September 8, 2020, https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-americas/maya
Munson, Jessica, et al. Classic Maya bloodletting and the cultural evolution of religious rituals: quantifying patterns of variation in hieroglyphic texts. PloS One. vol. 9 no. 9 (2014): 1-11.