NEW YORK They were more than mere kings _ they were gods.

For the ancient Maya -- living in what's present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize -- their rulers were the ones who ensured order in the cosmos.

The craftsmanship of the period reflected that reality.

The exhibit "Treasures of Sacred Maya Kings" opens tomorrow at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show runs through September tenth.

The exhibit already has been seen in Los Angeles and Dallas.

The program features more than 150 objects primarily from Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras.

Maya rulers would wear costumes and vestments that invoked the gods.

Their rituals, like bloodletting, were meant to connect them with their ancestors and with supernatural spirits -- all for the good of the people.