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What they carried varied depending on whether they were heading away from their home city or back again. Each city produced its own food, cloth, and basic ceramics but traded for other goods, such as basalt grinding stones, obsidian blades, and salt. Beneath the king and nobles was a group of skilled craftsmen who created luxury goods, such as pottery, jade carvings, stone tools, shell jewelry, and beads. Archaeologists have found very little evidence of how these people spent their days. indd 44 10/23/14 10:33 AM behind.

Ball courts in the northern Maya cities included stone rings set high on the walls for scoring opportunities. From the ball courts to the immense pyramids and palaces, stone carvings of many kinds adorned Maya cities. These ranged from facades with elaborate decorative reliefs to staircases and masks on temple exteriors. The style of this artwork varied from city to city and across Maya time periods. Chichén Itzá is known for the immense, Classic-era serpents slithering across its buildings. Many of these carvings depict scenes from the lives of kings, including coronations and wartime victories.

Indd 34 10/27/14 4:25 PM of a neighboring king or an important noble in another city. Alliances also formed when one king captured another in battle. Instead of sacrificing his captive, the victorious king would release the captured king to rule beneath him. Paintings on vases show one king paying another tribute items including fabric, feathers, and cacao beans. These beans were used for money and to make a chocolate drink consumed at banquets. Despite these alliances, a united empire never developed among the Maya.

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Ancient Maya by Sue Bradford Edwards

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