What Was the Ancient Maya Government Like?


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There was no centralized Maya government. The Mayas lived in city-states, some of which were very large and others that were smaller. One noble family had control of each city-state and served as a sort of monarchy with control of the city passing from father to son at the father's death.

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The Maya were a pre-Columbian civilization that are known for their fully developed written language and advanced astronomical understanding. They are also known for the Maya long-count calendar that is still studied and analyzed in modern times.

The noble head of the ruling family in each city had the power to choose officials to help him rule and to act as law enforcement and judges. Generally, the government was made up of a mix of family members, retired warriors and elders. Although each city was independently ruled, cities sometimes collaborated on battles against other cities or to repair common roads.

Maya people all spoke the same language and set up their cities in much the same way with roadways that they kept. They also worshiped the same gods and had similar laws. Although each city-state was ruled individually, the Maya empire was a solitary unit with a common language, religion, calendar and culture.

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