ADVANTAGES

Most archaeologists agree that the Mayans were governed byan elite class. When rivals or enemies from the elite were captured,they were often sacrificed, while most prisoners were probablymade slaves, servants, or laborers. Orphans gained by purchaseor kidnapping were also used for human sacrifice; slaves werebought and sold. Ceremonies and a ball game played on a courtwith a rubber ball were very important to the Mayans. Accordingto the Spanish missionary Las Casas, men retired to a specialbuilding, and while separated from their wives they fasted andmade daily offerings of their blood for up to a hundred days priorto a major festival. The priesthood, like the rulers, was headedby a hereditary elite family, which directed the sun priests,diviners, and seers whose visions were induced by peyote. Othersassisted in the human sacrifices that cut out the heart of thevictim. Such sacrifices were probably not performed as often asthe Aztecs later did. Mayan rituals often focused on the sacredcorn (maize).

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