Ross Hassig notes that the Maya had slings, the atlatl, and in some instances, used shields.

Ross Hassig

Ross Hassig, War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica (Berkley: University of California Press, 1992), 73

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Ross Hassig
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Slings were known among the Maya but were not elite weapons. The only other major projectile weapon available at this time was the atlatl, but atlatls were not effective weapons in the jungle environment, in small armies where a functional division of forces it not practical, or on raids where surprise attacks limited combat time. Under these conditions, atlatlists had neither enough time to throw a significant number of darts nor an adequate distance to ensure their own safety from enemy fighters. But even more to the point, raiders avoid conventional armies that are the atlatls’ best targets, and the Maya did not operate in formations that could effectively mass atlatl fire. In any case, it is fairly certain that atlatls were not integrated into a functioning Maya military complex but were depicted primarily as symbols of power associated with central Mexico, not as functional weapons. Moreover, when atlatls are depicted, the Maya are shown holding the atlatl improperly for casting darts.

Armor was not depicted in Maya sculpture at this time and was not well developed during the Classic, if it was used at all. Shields were not depicted either, but their usefulness, relative technological simplicity, and common occurrence among the Late Classic Maya suggests that they were used in some form, although the added inconvenience of carrying them through jungle growth may have restricted their use. This reliance on shock weapons and lack of armor suggest that the Maya were primarily raiders, sending small armies relatively short distances to strike enemy towns and peoples before hastily withdrawing, rather than fighting conventional armies in set-piece battles. Where opposition is met, raiders typically withdraw because defenders close to home have a significant advantage.

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