Mesoamerican Religion Definition Essay

Ancient Maya Religious Practices and Beliefs Essays

1267 Words6 Pages

Almost every aspect of Maya life was centered on religion. These ancient Mesoamerican peoples worshipped many gods and goddesses; this was part of their daily lives, despite class differences in their sophisticated society. Religion served as a basis for the government and social life. Priests and shamans played an important role in their government, conducted religious ceremonies, and made sacrifices to the gods. The Maya believed in the supernatural, and used this belief to explain life and their universe. Every object, whether it is part of nature or man made, was considered sacred and worshipped. The Maya universe was composed of three different realms; the Upperworld in the sky, the Earth, and the Underworld down below. Also…show more content…

Xibalba was organized into nine descending levels, worsening in punishment and torture as the levels lowered. Maya Lords of Death ruled over the different levels. After death, those who led evil lives were condemned to Xibalba. The Maya described the Underworld as a place filled with water and rivers and could be entered through caves or bodies of water. Despite the various characteristics and features the Maya believed their ancestors, spirits, and gods resided in all three realms and worshiped them. Like any religion, the Mayas had religious leaders to lead the community spiritually. Priests and shamans guided the religious practices of the Maya and were of great importance to the survival of the civilization because they would help the people please the gods. Shamans were mainly commoners and looked after those in their local community. Much like medicine men of the Native American tribes, shamans used their knowledge of plants to act as doctors amongst the people and cure illness. It was the job of the shamans to perform rituals, decipher events, and tell the future so the people were able to know the will of the gods. Unlike shamans, priests were of the elite class and took part in much larger matters. Many elite class sons became priests because they could not all hold a political office. “Priests who were full-time specialists in religious matters emerged as Maya society became larger and more

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Mayan civilization is probably one of the most fascinating and intriguing cultures that ever existed on Earth. From its unclear origins to incredible scientific and artistic advances achieved by the Mayan culture at its peak to its sudden unexplainable demise – everything about it looks as if it was invented specifically to pique the curiosity of later generations.

Mayan civilization is a mind-boggling combination of seemingly incompatible elements. It never evolved past the Stone Age. Like all other Mesoamerican cultures, ancient Mayans never knew metalworking, the wheel and many other advances that most civilizations make relatively early in their development. Nevertheless, they managed to create architecture that took into account advanced factors such as stress and strain, astronomical and mathematical systems that were by far superior to anything that existed at the time and were far beyond their own needs. They could do sums up into the millions, predict movements of the planets for thousands of years ahead and were probably the first to define the concept of the mathematical zero. At the same time, they practiced brutal human sacrifices, ritual torture, bloodletting and cannibalism. Any and all of these aspects of their civilization can be used as a basis for an excellent exploratory essay – here are 20 sample Mayan civilization essay topics for you to start from:

  1. Mass Exodus of the Maya: Possible Reasons
  2. The Mayan Religion and Human Sacrifice
  3. The Concept of Death in the Mayan Culture
  4. The Significance of Bloodletting Ceremony in the Mayan Culture
  5. Maya Calendar and the End of the World in 2012
  6. Syncretic Religion of Modern Maya
  7. The Ritual Ballgame and Its Importance for the Mayan Culture
  8. The Idea of Cyclical Development in the Mayan Culture
  9. Discovery of the Mayan Civilization by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood
  10. Scientific and Cultural Achievements of the Mayan Civilization
  11. The Written Legacy of the Mayan Civilization
  12. The Economy of Ancient Mayan City-States
  13. The Mayan Language and Preservation of the Mayan Culture
  14. The Modern Maya: Keeping the Traditions of the Past
  15. Maya Mythology and Its Connections with Other Mesoamerican Beliefs
  16. Urban Design of Ancient Mayan Cities
  17. Peculiarities of the Maya Script
  18. Ancient Mayan Cuisine and Agriculture as a Reflection of the Culture
  19. Methods of Human Sacrifice used by the Mayan Civilization and their Ritual Significance
  20. Incredible Advances of Mayan Astronomy and Mathematics

As you may see, there is a lot you can say about the Mayan civilization, and since its discovery in the 19th century a lot has been added to our knowledge about this ancient culture – which means that whatever topic you choose or create on your own, there is almost certain to be plenty of information you can use. Unhealthy fascination a lot of people had about the end of the world allegedly prophesized by the Mayan calendar to happen in 2012 did a lot to popularize Maya – which you can easily use to your own advantage.

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