Ranging from short to long distances as supported by

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ranging from short to long distances as supported by the discovery of exotic substances -- marine shells from the Pacific Coast, mercury from Honduras (found underneath a ball court), turquoise from northern Mexico, gold from western Mexico, copper bells/rings from Honduras, obsidian, and, again, jade from the Guatemala Highland -- present in archaeological digs of the ancient empire (McKillop 131). The Maya needed the trade routes so that particular materials not found in the region could be imported and used for important purposes: the Maya lowlands were lacking in basic resources such as salt, “a physiological necessity not present in sufficient amounts in the daily food of largely vegetarian people like the Maya,” hard stone, “every Maya house-wife needed [this] for corn-grinding tools,” and obsidian, for fashioning “razor-sharp cutting tools” (Culbert 22). There is a peculiar phenomenon that surrounds this trade-center concept; the necessary resources were found in great quantities at the borders of the region “far distant from the heaviest concentrations of the lowland population” (Culbert 22). Theoretically, this would indicate that the borders of the Mayan
Kang 7 lowlands would have a natural advantage over the central populations, however, this is not the case. The most luxurious, largest, and earliest sites were found in the center area which can be explained by William L. Rathje’s theory of the control of tradefactor: he reasons that in order to reside in the central, elite area, “centrally located groups must have very rapidly developed the organization necessary to conduct long-distance trade” (Culbert 22). Since specialized organization of the central zone consisted of maintaining relations with the border zones for the latter’s possession of treasured materials, the former had to develop artificial resources like the ceremonial system. Because the raw material-filled border areas followed the same religion and ideologies as the central zone, the former followed suit and “found the ceremonial niceties desirable enough to induce them to tranship outside raw materials to the core” (Culbert 23). As evidence of Rathje’s theory, the central Maya lowlands were in fact earlier, bigger, and, most importantly, contained the ceremonial leaders -- one of the few types of people that were the mediators between mankind and the gods (Culbert 23). The idea of the Maya civilization being the trade center of Central South America shows the remarkable political and economic strategies that upheld relative power over other regions primarily because of religion. This theory goes back to the evidence of foreign materials found in the Cenote Sagrado because of the artifact’s notable importance in South American culture surrounding the gods and their immense powers. Furthermore, the Cenote Sagrado was so sacred to the region that the practice associated with the well remained in place for hundreds of years following the decline of Chichen Itza. Ritual

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