Social Classes in the Olmec and Chavin Civilizations
Social Class Systems
Little is known about the ways of political and social structure within both the Olmec and Chavin civilizations. There was a strong influence of religion in all aspects of their society but little apart from this religious connection is clearly established. With respect to religion, the people of both civilizations believed their gods to hold almighty power above all classes of people. Below them were a social class of shamans, and rulers. These religious leaders and rulers were thought to have been a direct link and relatives to the gods. They ruled over the people and directed the aspects and actions of all else in the civilizations with strong religious influence. In the Chavin Cult, higher social classes were known to have existed based on their intricate and higher class tombs in which they were buried along with their valuables. Beyond this, all that is known by researches is that there was a common class of people. The commoners were made up of laborers and workers who helped build the structures these civilizations were known for. There was not much complexity to a system of social hierarchy amongst the people, but they still prove functional and successful in their ways.