The ancient Maya completed compelling and impressive socio-economic intricacy during pre-conquest period. Extraordinary ancient cities such together Tikal and also Caracol room scattered through out eastern Mexico and also Guatemala. These financial centers exemplify the economic might and wealth the the ancient civilization. Just how did the ancient Maya achieve such great affluence? The breakthrough of substantial commercial network between neighboring Mayan city-states has recently has actually been embraced as a prime mechanism for economic growth in the ancient civilization.
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Furthermore, amounting proof has suggested that the death of trade routes inhibited more growth, which directly led come the eventual decrease of the whole civilization. That is a common notion that economics are largely dependent upon commercial relations with international settlements and civilizations. The ancient Maya were no exception, and at the pinnacle that the Mayan people (circa 800 AD) archaeological evidence says the Maya were involved in a commercial network that rivals modern world trade.
INTRODUCTION and BACKGROUND
The pre-conquest Maya human being existed between approximately 3000 B.C., v the start of the antiquated period, to 1524 v the Spanish occupation led by Hernan Cortez. At the time of the conquest, the ancient Maya occupied all of Belize, Guatemala, and also the Yucatan Peninsula, parts of the Mexican says of Tabasco and also Chiapas, and also the western portion of Honduras and El Salvador.
Primarily during the Classic and also periods of the Post-Classic, the Maya grew with huge cities such together Chichen Itza, which, according to Charles Lincoln, “…emerged as one of the main centers that Mesoamerican1 civilization.” The Maya continue to live in these areas and are known as the largest team of American Indians north of Peru. The success of any civilization mostly depends top top its capability to effectively allocate that resources.
The advancement of comprehensive trade networks throughout the Classic, Terminal Classic, and parts the the post Classic, allowed many Maya communities to obtain materials, which to be not easily available. Not only did this relationships create an exchange of ideas, but also they created a politically and economically sound infrastructure upon i m sorry the areas could prosper.
ALLOCATION OF beneficial RESOURCES
Economic stability was imperative because that the success of old Maya city-states. Farming was a vital contributor to the economy in many old Maya communities. In fact, the majority of scholars believe that decrease in numerous of the central lowland populations throughout the so late Classic and also Terminal standard periods was partially due to agricultural deficiency. This presupposes drought, most likely as result of widespread deforestation and also insufficient chop yields. Also, countless of the technical advances of the old Maya concern agriculture. Elevated fields and also extensive irrigation are yet two examples of technological change completed by the old Maya, which enhanced output, thereby strengthening the economy.
Favorable allocation of resources and specialization assisted in favorable commerce relationships. The accessibility of resources is for this reason tightly associated to economics that scholars frequently use economic laws, such together supply and demand, as soon as assessing old Maya commerce. Specialization in trade deserve to be characterized as specialized exploitation of resources by populations in a certain environmental zone. Concentration in a details area of business in response to accessibility of sources was crucial in determining the products exchanged in between two groups.
The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico was widely populated in both the standard Period, and more so in the Terminal and also Post standard Periods. The fallen of the central lowland’s task resulted in migration to areas in the Yucatan and also the success that several human beings including the Puuk, Toltec’s, and also Itza. Professional Anthony andrew believes the salt beds lining the coastlines of the Yucatan detailed profitable trade and also contributed to this civilizations’ success.
Salt is a an easy human requirement; most world requiring around 4 grams every day. The is approximated that Tikal’s population of approximately 45,000 consumed approximately 131.4 lots of salt annually. Not only is it forced in diet, yet it can additionally be supplied as a preservative. Throughout the Classic and also Post classic Periods small island populaces on Caye Ambergris and Isla Mujeres traded salted fish. One exchange relationship in between island communities and the mainland was an essential because this geographically isolated groups were i can not qualify of enough subsistent agriculture.
Salt was additionally frequently offered for ritual and also medicinal purposes. Remnants of large religious shrines and also temples in Emal top top the Yucatan Peninsula indicate the surrounding salt bed were thought about sacred. That is also believed that salt was generally used throughout childbirth and death. A midwife would market salt come both parents at birth and also a saline systems was sprinkled throughout the house adhering to the death of a family members member.
In the Yucatan village of Dzitás, Robert and also Margaret Redfield experienced salt gift prescribed for epilepsy and honey and salt for severe birth pains, arguing that comparable practices may have actually been noticeable in ancient periods. The Maya ide of hot-cold and also its relationship to illness use as well. Anthony Andrews suggests that salt was taken into consideration a “cold” medicine and often provided to healing fevers. A controversial issue amongst experts is whether salt was provided as a money in old times. The truth that plenty of other components of the civilization were using salt together a kind of money supports this concept. However, Spanish reports throughout the occupation suggest the it was more an items of small-scale barter, fairly than a significant monetary unit.
The Yucatan coast is numerous in salinas, or coastal salt flats. The dried season (January to May) enables for inland saline-filled swamps come recede, leave residual salt-encrusted mud. That is approximated that 20,000 metric tons can be gave in annually. The central area, particularly the Peten region, contained small to no salt sources. The need for salt and the variety of the source in the Yucatan prompted rigorous trade.
It is often thought that the salt market did not completely develop until a far-reaching population increase throughout the standard period. Evidence says that enhanced trade of obsidian and polychrome ceramics synchronized with an expansion of salt commerce. Throughout this period, coastal cities such as Chunchucmil, Tzeme, and Dzibilchaltùn increased rapidly with populations ranging indigenous 10,000 come 40,000. Since these cities exist in arable and agriculturally negative conditions, professionals conclude that they mostly relied top top the salt industry for economic and agrarian support acquired through exchange.
THE breakthrough OF advertising CENTERSTikal
The Yucatan was no the just area to grow as a result of the salt trade. That is thought that Tikal was a major commercial hub, or “middleman” for the rest of Guatemalan Maya land. Salt come from the north and jade and also obsidian were received from the Chiapas highlands of west Guatemala, as well as the Peten region.
Christopher Jones concludes the the “middleman” duty of Tikal was a vital source of financial support during the Classic duration because it enabled the city come partake in business without having many profitable resources. Consequently, the transition of trade paths in the Terminal and also Post standard can be taken into consideration a major factor in the city’s decline. Anthony andrews speculates a decrease in the Maya lowland populace diverted the circulation of profession away from big hubs such as Tikal and also Copan. Andrews suggests maritime trade confirmed to be much more efficient and also practical as components of the central Area declined. Bypassing the core an ar tremendously reduced the economic task of this major trade center.
The obsidian trade is similar to the salt trade; however, its offers and source distribution differ. Prefer salt, profession of the volcanic glass resource flowed v core areas which were hence viewed as redistribution points not only for their very own zones of politics control, however for every lowland Maya centers.
Daniel Potter describes such cities as, Tikal and El Chayal, as soon as he comments on “core areas.” follow to john E. Clark, the concentration of obsidian was greater in the central Chiapas Depression situated near areas such as El Chayal and also Ixtepeque. Follow to Daniel Potter, the old presumption that Teotihuacan was the largest obsidian producer has actually been recently challenged. Instead, man Clark has actually introduced the theory that Teotihuacan to be the biggest obsidian customer throughout Mesoamerica. Obsidian was mostly transferred in the type of spall. The term “spall” refers to big flakes, big flake fragments, and also chunks. Hirth defines that in order to exploit obsidian it need to be cut and shaped into smaller fragments that deserve to be provided as tools; hence large obsidian workshops room necessary.
The old Maya obsidian trade is studied making use of evidence concerning location and also size that these productive workshops. That is estimated that Tikal had actually close come a hundred of this workshops in roughly 700 A.D.. Both transport and also treatment that obsidian developed a labor-intensive industry, requiring an easy porters, generally slaves, and skilled craftsmen.
Control of obsidian shop was critical as it involves politics and also the strength of elites. Stephen Kowalewski comments, “…complex polities may have managed the production and also exchange of obsidian commodities.” If so, formalized exchange relationships may have actually existed in between ruling elite members that the importing and also exporting societies who would have actually governed the circulation of important assets such together obsidian. As Kowalewski implies, the obsidian trade assisted in relations amongst elites. However, these relationships were not always positive.
Daniel Potter has researched competition in between El Chayal and also Ixtepeque to supply parts of the lowlands during the standard Period. According to Potter, evidence argues that Ixtepeque obsidian was dominant in cities such as Tikal, Seibal, Palenque, and Kaminaljuya. The demand for obsidian in big cities produced expansion that trade routes within the lowlands the Potter comments, “…will be reputed too simplistic,” suggesting all the routes have yet to it is in identified. Long distance trade allowed large commercial centers to increase as major economic establishments throughout the Classic and also Post-Classic Periods.
As declared earlier, Tikal got a “middleman” function in the salt and also obsidian trade. Two recent explorations are Cancuen’s function as a significant trading post and Caye Amergris’ naval trade network. These explorations have offered rise to new theories related to to ancient Maya trade.
Fairly recently, archaeologist Arthur Demarest stumbled ~ above a 2.5 square kilometer plaza in the ancient city the Cancuen. Demarest suspects that the city had substantial control of raw resources, which permitted it to be one of the most powerful forces in the an ar from 400 BC to ad 800. Cancuen’s wide range is noticeable from among its 3 story, 270,000 sq. Ft, 170 room palaces the rivals the biggest temple of Tikal.
Demarest trust Cancuen’s an excellent wealth was acquired through wide-spread hegemonic warfare. Additional excavation that the city and the lack of defense walls have led professionals to think that such great wealth was obtained through long-distance trade. Demarest comments, “They do a collection of partnerships with whichever city-state to be the most powerful, furnishing your allies the jade, obsidian, pyrite, quetzal feathers and also other goods crucial for maintaining manage over the usual people.”
The presence of sophisticated tombs through jade inlays in the deceaseds’ teeth and also men buried with lavish headdresses shows the prosperity and also splendor the city experienced. It also suggests the Maya kings might obtain great power through commerce instead of imperialistic warfare. Demarest offers Cancuen as an instance of wealth acquired not v violence, however solely v commerce.
Caye Ambergris is one island located off the shore of Belize, and according to cutting board Guderjan, was connected to a significant trade network. Not only did areas on Caye Ambergris have access to far-reaching salt deposits, but also they partook in the ceramics industry. The absence of obsidian deposits motivated rigorous trade with locations of the Maya highlands, such together El Chayal. The Putun, or Chontal Maya, acquired an excellent wealth once the people controlled numerous of Caye Ambergris’s marine trade routes during the so late Classic and early Post-Classic Periods. Guderjan comments, “
Not all specialists readily accept such a concept. Michael Coe argues that the Putun’s aggressive armed forces exhibitions into the lowland Maya “heartland” allowed them to acquire affluence and also power. Nonetheless, the overwhelming evidence discovered on Caye Ambergris suggests that these “Phoenicians of the Yucatan” involved in far-reaching long-distance trade. Exported items include ceramics, salted fish, marine shells, perhaps dyes, and also jade. Farming goods native the lowlands and obsidian imported from the Maya highlands were an important to the functioning island inhabitants. Guderjan comments, “…the profession of goods amongst those with and those without such goods was main to the advancement of complicated societies.” However, there is an excellent debate in whether non-essential elite products or utilitarian items were traded throughout the standard Period.
Maya expert, Jeremy Sabloff, contends the fine items such as quetzal feathers, jade, and also cacao were traded during and also at the finish of the classic Period. Sabloff uses proof of fancy ports, such together Chac Balam, come assert his conclusion the the Maya traded utilitarian goods throughout the Classic period out of necessity and also practicality. The carry of products such as obsidian, salt, and also basalt was very labor intensive and also high-maintenance. Sabloff believes business of this kind can not have actually taken location without the big seaports.
As the Maya population increased throughout the standard period, a greater demand for “commoner items” developed. Guderjan contends that rising need for utilitarian items allowed coastal communities, together those top top Caye Ambergris, come prosper and also specialize in marine commerce.
WARFARE, ancient MAYA ELITES, and also COMMERCE
The role of elite in the old Maya human being is examined today. Experts’ views room changing, as brand-new evidence is uncovered concerning commerce’s duty in politics. The bulk of experts think the profession of luxury items empowered elites with higher prestige and also status during the standard Period.
Luxury items consisted of jade, quetzal feathers, cacao, seashells, fancy polychrome pottery and also embroidered cloth, chert, amber, and turquoise. Because long-distance trade was extremely labor intensive and costly, fine goods were mainly exchanged. This is not to infer that “non-luxurious” items such together salt and also obsidian were rarely traded. In fact, Guderjan believes these goods overcame the markets during the classic Period. The an interpretation of luxurious and also utilitarian items is rather subjective.
According to Kenneth Hirth, trade goods’ worth have the right to be divide by location of discovery. John Fox comments, “Workshops for 2 specialties, shell-bone working and cloth embroidery, were recovered just in the high-status complexes
Embroidered cloth was an especially important in signifying status, emphasizing the prestige of workshops to procedure raw materials into usable perfect products. Obsidian necessitated professional craftsmen to cut and kind the shards of volcanic glass into cutting tools. Jade was carved and shaped into intricate designs often depicting deities.
Jade is considered an essential elite great because of its frequent appearance in Mayan rulers’ tombs. Fox suspects regulate over workshops and distribution of items to neighborhood markets to be a major source of upstream power. Fox comments, “The internal distribution of products by Quichè
Relations among elites were an essential in obtaining favorable trade. Fox trust obsidian and also other products were “obtained follow me kinship networks amongst political allies, notably in between the Nima Quiche and Cakchiquel.” However, commerce did not always produce favorable relations amongst elites.
During the classic and particularly Terminal standard Periods, warfare among city-states to be common. Experts such together Jeremy Sabloff contend that during the beforehand Classic duration warfare was mainly a spiritual ritual. However, factors for battle shifted together elites occurred imperialistic goals during the late and also Terminal standard Periods. Tikal dominated neighboring Uaxactun under the management of Jaguar Paw.
In turn, Caracol defeated Tikal throughout the mid-Classic Period. The Late classic kingdom the Dos Pilas brought out wars of conquest versus its neighbors and incorporated such claims as Seibal into its own dominion. A higher amount of defensive walls surrounding ancient cities were created during the late Classic period suggests an increase in Maya warfare.
This conclusion proceeds to it is in controversial as Sabloff comments, “the assumption that all these
FOREIGN CIVILIZATIONS and MAYA COMMERCE
The lure of an useful natural sources was not only felt among the Maya themselves. During the Classic and also Post-Classic Periods, a strong foreign element in Maya trade industries prompted rapid economic expansion and development. David Webster suggests the duty of foreign dominion when that concludes:
…many identify brand-new Post classic patterns that warfare based upon the intrusions that upstart ruling groups not country enculturated to the an ext formalized classic Maya army traditions, brought out in the paper definition of new, internationalized commercial routes and also exchange networks.
David Freidel additionally comments top top the prominence of control over trade paths by international civilizations:
Control of currency sources and accessibility to resources had actually both political and economical effects. This incentives triggered “foreign” human beings such together the Teotihuacan, the Toltecs, and the Putun Maya to achieve control of profession in various locations of Mayan land. Most professionals agree the Teotihuacan to be the most influential foreign civilization to influence ancient Maya long-distance trade. The Teotihuacans from central Mexico many likely hosted the best influence end the Maya throughout the early on Classic duration before 600 A.D.
At the height of the civilization, throughout the Patlachique phase, Hirth approximates each family consumed at the very least 21 pieces or about 9.52 kilograms of obsidian annually. Teotihuacan’s industrial activity created a high need for life materials, particularly obsidian.
The armed merchants, or Pochtecas, that Teotihucan, obtained accessibility to obsidian resources in the Guatemalan highlands, as well as control over major economic centers, such together Tikal and also Kaminaljuya. Kenneth Hirth to trust the Pochtecas did not wish come redesign the infrastructure of the obsidian sector in Maya cities, however instead want to optimize manufacturing for Teotihuacan’s needs and also advantage. The raw material need for Teotihuacan was very high through its estimated 45,000 population during the Early standard Period.
The hallmark tripod pottery design of Teotihuacan, discovered primarily in Kaminaljuya, suggests the hefty influence of entrepreneurial traders. Potter contends Teotihuacan’s biggest influence is existing in the boost of long-distance trade. He likewise believes the Maya were primarily energetic in neighborhood trade before the arrival of the foreigners.
With the production of paths to Teotihuacan in main Mexico, long-distance commerce relations were established and a trade structure built. The expansion of long-distance trade during the Teotihuacan regime assisted in further financial growth with the flow of brand-new materials via newly developed trade routes.
The sellers of the Yucatan were much much more influential politically 보다 the traders of the main Lowland and Highland areas. William Sanders comments, “The
During the Terminal classic Period, a migration from the central lowlands to the Yucatan and also areas of the western highlands occurred. Together a result, the populaces of urban such together Koba and also Chichenitza expanded significantly during the Post-Classic periods. According to Coe and also many various other experts, the Maya lowlands declined both politically and also economically during the so late Classic and Terminal standard Periods.
Consequentially, numerous of the Yucatan cities increased as major commercial centers managed primarily through merchants. Hardoy comments, “During these decreasing centuries the Maya society, the seller was supposedly much an ext closely determined with his political chiefs than was the Aztec merchant.” numerous wealthy merchant families gained comprehensive political control.
The Cocom household governed Mayapan and also later your headquarters in Sotuta for several generations. Vendor leaders did not wish to redesign ar life, as Hardoy suggests, “
The ruling merchants might have derived from either prestigious noble or commoners. Both groups might own slaves, thus having direct access to a labor force, permitting transport the labor-intensive products. Items such as salt and obsidian were especially challenging to transport long-distance, and slaves were commonly used come haul large, cumbersome tons from Koba to as much as Kaminaljuyu or locations in main Mexico.
THE climb OF A SOCAL HIERARCHY
The climb of merchants throughout the Classic and also Post classic Periods facilitated growth in the middle class and also the elite of many Maya communities. A social stratum in Maya cities is through no way a post conquest attribute, according to Chase. The climb of a middle course is not so much connected to the vendors themselves, but rather, to the intermediary occupations, together as experienced artisans and also craftsmen, who were indirectly connected in commerce.
In numerous commercial communities, that is approximated that the populace consisted of 20-25% merchants, artisans, or craftsmen of “middle” status. Currently, the duty of merchants is a resource of much debate amongst experts. Many think occupations such as artistry and also crafts cannot be taken into consideration “trade related,” as such diminishing the size of the commercially energetic middle class.
Most criticism has originated native the subjectivity associated in labeling details occupations as “trade related.” Nevertheless, evidence says there was advance of a more powerful middle class during the post Classic Period, primarily in the Yucatan.
As declared before, experts agree there was a major decline in economic and political activity primarily in the main lowlands the Guatemala throughout the Late and Terminal standard Period. Michael Coe says that there is overwhelming archeological proof that big cities, such as Tikal and Copan, experienced mass abandonment.
COMMERCES duty IN THE decrease OF THE MAYA
Numerous theories because that such a sharp decline have occurred from considerable study. Overpopulation accompanied v drought and also crop fail is one theory. Populations exceeded the transporting capacity the land, resulting in widespread famine. Also, widespread deforestation possibly created lower levels of precipitation.
Although cities, such together Tikal, built large reservoirs and also extensive irrigation systems come combat these ecological factors, low crop yields hindered any kind of possibility of sustaining a big population. An additional reason for decrease is endemic internecine warfare. Follow to Freidel, numerous elites developed imperialistic aspirations of dominating neighboring city-state.
David Webster states:
“Evidence explicitly or implicitly asserts that Maya warfare was an ext frequent, more intense, more lethal, and also less constrained through political/ideological conventions throughout the Terminal Classic/Early Postclassic 보다 it had ever been before.”
The city that Seibal to be especially associated in warfare. Dos Pilas attacked the city before it came under the militant Putun’s influence during the Terminal classic Period. Violence and warfare prompted many inhabitants to seek refuge in the Yucatan Peninsula and also Chiapas highlands.
A well-documented and also supported concept for the decrease of the Maya main lowlands is the deterioration of profession routes. Geographic location was a major factor in the changing of profession routes. Anthony andrews deduces that the core area, or central lowlands, stood for a buffer or intermediary zone between northern and also southern Maya land. Flow of products was in the control of merchants. As marine trade was found an ext practical and also the populace decreased in the central area, redirecting trade routes proved much more efficient.
Consequentially, main lowland urban were bypassed.
The discontinuity of products flowing into Maya cities impacted all social classes. Commoners no longer received everyday necessities such together salt and also obsidian. There is no cutting tools and axes, farming and also daily tasks were severely hindered.
Elites additionally lost power and also prestige as a result of the trade course shift. Jade and also quetzal feathers were essential symbols of wealth and status. The worth of these exchanged items have the right to be described by your rarity. Together the writer explain, “Their value comes in component from the reality that their raw materials are obtainable only by long-distance exchange.” deluxe items placed in burials were a common practice during standard times.
Increasing scarcity of fine products is seen in the to decrease of jade, turquoise, polychrome pottery, and also elaborate textiles inserted in elite burial tombs. Together a result, ns of strength in the elite accompanied the degradation of trade relations.
Many aspects of the ancient Maya world can be check by assessing the affect and result of long-distance trade during the Classic and Post standard periods. However, in bespeak to do proper and valid conclusions, the is imperative to consider all information and also refrain from making generalizations.
I conclude the trade assisted in growth and development, which resulted in the prosperity and advancement of an outstanding and complicated civilization.
In assessing the evidence, ns think the most apparent type of growth accomplished by the ancient Maya was economic. Allocation of resources was a critical component of specialization in trade. Cities in the Yucatan and also Chiapas highlands accomplished prosperity v concentration in a specific trading market. I think that expertise in trade was a far-reaching contributing aspect in achieving financial growth since it developed favorable trade relationships. Symbiotic associations developed, creating an all at once commercial network permitting various values and also ideas to be transported along with the exchangeable items to remote cities.
This so-called “trade network” did no exclude locations that to be somewhat resource deficient. Cities, such together Tikal and also Caracol, obtained good wealth through becoming major focal point out of commerce, a main theory the Coe. I claim that urban in the lowland areas would not have actually reached together high populations without the visibility of together a trade network. Tikal developed a solid reliance on the flow of products primarily due to the fact that of necessity. Items such together salt and also jade were provided in spiritual events, and daily activity.
I believe major religious and social aspects the the lowland Maya would have actually been severely inhibited if castle did not have access to items via trade. The level of the central area’s suspended on trade have the right to be witnessed with the eventual decrease of the lowlands ~ the degradation of trade routes through the area. Although there space several factors for the decrease of the Maya, the failure of profession was a significant issue, i beg your pardon impeded prosperity and also lead to the abandonment of countless lowland communities.
The increase of sellers severely changed the political structure of many old Maya communities. This reverts to resource control and wealth. The Cocom household gained far-reaching political toughness as a an outcome of wealth and prestige obtained from commerce. In mine opinion, this to represent the ide of afford political and economical success v trade.
I believe that commerce revolutionized the political device of the old Maya by enabling the rise of a different kind of political elites: the merchants. Maya elite relied on deluxe items, such as jade and also quetzal feathers, to signify high social rank. Commoners supplied obsidian devices for everyday work and also salt for usage and spiritual practices. Both commoners and the elite used Cacao as a type of currency. This dependencies entrusted sellers with comprehensive power and wealth.
In mine opinion, merchants lived in the biggest power in the Maya political framework by being able to control traded materials and their accessibility to both commoners and other elites. Therefore, as warrior elites were progressively phased out, vendors gained control not just of advertisement activity, but also political power.
Long-distance trade associated different components of the labor pressure in Maya communities. Ns think the most significant effect that commerce and also the society stratum is the increase of the center class. Slaves, peasants, and elites to be the basic units that social organization until trade intensified.
The social aspect of the old Maya became more egalitarian when wealthy sellers progressively obtained power. The expansion of a middle class permitted upward mobility and overall prosperity for those both directly and also indirectly involved in trade. I believe a greater distribution of riches is the underlining element in larger population trends because of favorable economic conditions during the classic period. Business encompasses a range of characteristics of the ancient Maya. I think it is just one of the many important determinants contributing come the ancient Maya’s development. A complicated and diverse civilization, as the Maya were, have the right to be associated through a network the distributive resources.
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I conclude that long-distance trade was a primary source of prosperity and enabled the ancient Maya to thrive as a culturally enriched and also fascinating civilization.