Ancient American Civilizations: Social Structure
The social structures in most ancient civilizations were similar. Rulers were the highest in power. Next, it was preists or priestesses who advised the ruler. A marriage between a ruer and priestess were common. Then, the common people were next on the social ladder. But, skilled workers were held higher than unskilled and untrained workers. At the lowest class were slaves and servants. Slaves/servants were often war prisoners, convicts. laborers with no pay, people who took the jobs nobody wanted, or the servants who served the nobles.
Mayan Social Structure
The Mayan Social Structure was rigily divided. It consister of nobles, commoners, serfs, and slaves; and each social class had it's own set of rules that it had it's own set of rules it needed to follow.
-Nobles: The Noble social class was complex and specialized. The people who made up this social class were wealthy,literate, and elite; they usually lived in the central areas of the the Maya cities. Some jobs that these peoples had were tribute collectors, local administrators, plantation managers, leaders of trade, expedition leaders, military leaders, government officials, high priests, and rulers. Occupations were past on through family lineages in this class.
-Commoners: Commoners were people who worked as farmers, and laborers. Merchants and artisans were also included in this class, but they could become quite wealthy. They typically lived outside of the central areas of the city and worked individual or communal plots of land. Commoners were forbiden from wearing elegant clothes or signs of nobility. They also were not allowed to purchase or use luxurious or exotic items. Commoners could move up a social class by joining the military force.
-Serfdom & Slavery: There was an active slave trade in Mayan cities. Serfs and slaves were similar but were not the same thing. Serfs were servants who served in the house of a ruler. Slaves were people who were enslaved as a form of punishment for certain crimes, unpaid debts, prisoners of were (who were not sacrificed), or impoverish people who would sell themselves or family members into slavery. It was common that when a slave's owner died, then the slave would be sacrificed so they could serve their deceased master in the afterlife.
-Children: If a child was born from slave parents, the slave status would not be passed on. But, children could become slaves if they were orphaned or unwanted. Slave children would sometimes be sacrificed.
-Marriage Combinations: Nobles typically had arranged marriages and would often marry close relatives. If a commoner married a slave, then the commoner would be marred into slavery and would become property of their spouse's master.