The Evolution of Maya Rulership

September 29, 2021

Dartmouth researchers studied the Maya site of Yaxunam and E groups in the Maya lowlands that are astronomically aligned with equinoxes and solstices.

Maya rulers worried the past world would interfere with their authority so they tried to erase the past. The rulers saw themselves as the embodiment of the Sun God and needed to put their persona over their cities. E group sites were built on an east-west axis with a pyramid at the west and a long raised platform at the east. At 400 BCE, E group complexes were built on existing temples, or on top of them. Sometimes, there were 5 or 6 pyramids built over the top of preceding ones. At Yaxunam, precious items like polished magnetite or a ceramic vessel with greenware beads were placed in some of the levels to emphasize continuity.

Other E group structures were ritually destroyed and burned to destroy the energy or soul of a building, and the ashes spread over an area for new uses. Rulers introduced new architecture or massive civic architecture like massive roadways to new districts, creating a more hierarchical politics

The research is published in the Journal Ancient Mesoamerica

Heritage Daily has the report here: