Ancient Maya Political Economies examines variation in systems of economic production and exchange and how these systems supported the power networks that integrated Maya society. Using models originally developed by William L. Rathje, the authors explore core-periphery relations, the use of household analysis to reconstruct political economy, and evidence for market development. In doing so, they challenge the conventional wisdom of decentralized Maya political authority and replace it with a more complex view of the political economic foundations of Maya civilization.
Papers from the 1987 Maya Weekend conference at the University of Pennsylvania Museum present current views of Maya culture and language. Also included is an article by George Stuart summarizing the history of the study of Maya hieroglyphs and the fascinating scholars and laypersons who have helped bring about their decipherment. Symposium Series III University Museum Monograph, 77
An exploration, using research from the Maya site Motul de San Jose in Guatemala, of how political structures and dynamics have been examined by political anthropologists and archaeologists over the last century.
Who were the leaders of the ancient Maya? How did their political system work? Readers will learn the answers to these questions and more as they explore the evidence left behind by the ancient Maya. Primary sources, such as artifacts, ruins, and ancient artwork, will give readers a strong grasp on the political system that governed the ancient Maya. Readers will enjoy reading about ancient kings who were treated like gods. Color photographs of what the Maya left behind are paired with accessible text to introduce readers to the Maya’s unique and fascinating beliefs and politics.
Most treatments of large Classic Maya sites such as Caracol and Tikal regard Maya political organization as highly centralized. Because investigations have focused on civic buildings and elite palaces, however, a critical part of the picture of Classic Maya political organization has been missing. The contributors to this volume chart the rise and fall of the Classic Maya center of Xunantunich, paying special attention to its changing relationships with the communities that comprised its hinterlands. They examine how the changing relationships between Xunantunich and the larger kingdom of Naranjo affected the local population, the location of their farms and houses, and the range of economic and subsistence activities in which both elites and commoners engaged. They also examine the ways common people seized opportunities and met challenges offered by a changing political landscape. The rich archaeological data in this book show that incorporating subject communities and peopleÑand keeping them incorporatedÑwas an on-going challenge to ancient Maya rulers. Until now, archaeologists have lacked integrated regional data and a fine-grained chronology in which to document short-term shifts in site occupations, subsistence strategies, and other important practices of the daily life of the Maya. This book provides a revised picture of Maya politicsÑone of different ways of governing and alliance formation among dominant centers, provincial polities, and hinterland communities.
Architecture and the Origins of Preclassic Maya Politics highlights the dramatic changes in the relationship of ancient Maya peoples to the landscape and to each other in the Preclassical period (ca. 2000 BC–250 AD). Offering a comprehensive history of Preclassic Maya society, James Doyle focuses on recent discoveries of early writing, mural painting, stone monuments, and evidence of divine kingship that have reshaped our understanding of cultural developments in the first millennium BC. He also addresses one of the crucial concerns of contemporary archaeology: the emergence of political authorities and their subjects in early complex polities. Doyle shows how architectural trends in the Maya Lowlands in the Preclassic period exhibit the widespread cross-cultural link between monumental architecture of imposing intent, human collaboration, and urbanism.
"This volume is the first of its kind. A complex mosaic of how a relatively small Late Classic Maya polity was economically, socially, and politically organized. A must-read for all Maya scholars."--James F. Garber, editor of "The Ancient Maya of the Belize Valley" "The editors have assembled a remarkable array of evidence, including several innovative analytical methods. The product is a synthetic model that will shape how we understand and study Classic Maya political economy for the next several decades."--Jason Yaeger, editor of "Classic Maya Provincial Politics" Scholars have long debated the nature of Maya political organization during the Classic period (AD 250-950). Complex questions regarding political centralization, economic change, and the role of politics and economics in the rise and collapse of the civilization have been examined and reexamined from a variety of perspectives. Antonia Foias and Kitty Emery have assembled a broad collection of essays all focused on a single polity, that of Motul de San Jose.By presenting a coherent interdisciplinary body of archaeological and environmental data, the volume offers an intensely deep, focused investigation of the various models of the ancient Maya political and economic systems. Research conducted over six seasons of fieldwork reveals a more centralized political system than expected and uncovers the workings of the ancient economic structure. The contributors offer new details concerning how involved royals and nonroyal elites were in the politics of nearby states, as well as an extensive tribute system. Antonia E. Foias is professor of anthropology at Williams College. Kitty F. Emery is associate curator of the Florida Museum of Natural History and associate professor at the University of Florida."" "A volume in the series Maya Studies, edited by Diane Z. Chase and Arlen F. Chase"
Data spanning the Archaic to Early Postclassic are presented, with particular analytical focus given to the end of the Early Classic through the Late and Terminal Classic and the geopolitical tumult that defined this period. Cast in the framework of political ecology, together these studies not only shed light on specific class histories of the region. They also advance a theory for understanding the contributions of non-elites to political growth and change over time. Classic Maya Political Ecology opens a window into pre-Columbian political processes grounded in environmental productivity and a mutual interdependence that defined class relations in northwestern Belize. This volume also outlines a theoretical approach that defines commoners and elites alike as political actors, people who contributed to the long term success and adaptability of local and regional political communities and the networks that sustained them.
How did the ancient Maya rule their world? Despite more than a century of archaeological investigation and glyphic decipherment, the nature of Maya political organization and political geography has remained an open question. Many debates have raged over models of centralization versus decentralization, superordinate and subordinate status—with far-flung analogies to emerging states in Europe, Asia, and Africa. But Prudence Rice asserts that neither the model of two giant "superpowers" nor that which postulates scores of small, weakly independent polities fits the accumulating body of material and cultural evidence. In this groundbreaking book, Rice builds a new model of Classic lowland Maya (AD 179-948) political organization and political geography. Using the method of direct historical analogy, she integrates ethnohistoric and ethnographic knowledge of the Colonial-period and modern Maya with archaeological, epigraphic, and iconographic data from the ancient Maya. On this basis of cultural continuity, she constructs a convincing case that the fundamental ordering principles of Classic Maya geopolitical organization were the calendar (specifically a 256-year cycle of time known as the may) and the concept of quadripartition, or the division of the cosmos into four cardinal directions. Rice also examines this new model of geopolitical organization in the Preclassic and Postclassic periods and demonstrates that it offers fresh insights into the nature of rulership, ballgame ritual, and warfare among the Classic lowland Maya.
In the first comprehensive treatment of Classic Maya patron deity veneration, Joanne P. Baron demonstrates the central importance of patron deity cults in political relationships between both rulers and their subjects and among different Maya kingdoms. Weaving together evidence from inscriptions, images, and artifacts, Patron Gods and Patron Lords provides new insights into how the Classic Maya polity was organized and maintained. Using semiotic theory, Baron draws on three bodies of evidence: ethnographies and manuscripts from Postclassic, Colonial, and modern Maya communities that connect patron saints to pre-Columbian patron gods; hieroglyphic texts from the Classic period that discuss patron deity veneration; and excavations from four patron deity temples at the site of La Corona, Guatemala. She shows how the Classic Maya used patron deity effigies, temples, and acts of devotion to negotiate group membership, social entitlements, and obligations between individuals and communities. She also explores the wider role of these processes in politics, arguing that rituals and discourses related to patron deities ultimately formulated Maya rulership as a locally oriented institution, which limited the ability of powerful kingdoms to create wider religious communities. Applying a new theoretical approach for the archaeological study of ideology and power dynamics, Patron Gods and Patron Lords reveals an overlooked aspect of the belief system of Maya communities.