Ancient Maya Political Economies

Overview

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. Chapters in this book take a hard look at existing models of elite exchange and tribute and address the difficult question of how the flow of utilitarian goods supported Maya kingdoms and their ruling classes. Using models originally developed by William L. Rathje, the authors explore core-periphery relations, the use of household ...

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Overview

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. Chapters in this book take a hard look at existing models of elite exchange and tribute and address the difficult question of how the flow of utilitarian goods supported Maya kingdoms and their ruling classes. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In this volume, which is dedicated to William Rathje and indebted to his theories of material culture, 14 essays consider aspects of the political economies of the Maya in regions found in the Yucatan, Belize, and Guatemala. The papers range in scope from broad to specific with topics that include a new assessment of the role of luxury goods in the larger economic system, regional patterns of modes of exchange, and assessing the scale of Maya economies based on exchange between local, regional, and distant areas. The contributors teach anthropology and archaeology at universities in the US and the UK. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Choice
These papers, originally presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in 2000, offer a unique overview of current research on the prehispanic Maya's political economy, defined by the editors as the "ways in which economic production and exchange are manipulated to support the power of a society's leaders." ... The reintroduction of economic issues is a welcome complement to recent studies of Maya political organization based primarily on texts and images. The contributions include important overviews of the organization of production and exchange of salt,ceramics, shell, cacao, and obsidian, including discussion of the development of currencies and markets. They span all periods from the preclassic through the early colonial and cover the Maya lowlands... several contributors (West, Foias, Dahlin and Ardren, and Hanson) offer highly readable papers that make important arguments sure to sustain debate for some time.
— R. A. Joyce, University of California, Berkeley
Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol. 59, 2003 - Jeremy A. Sabloff
This important volume examines the changing nature of pre-Columbian Maya political economies in different regions and time periods and at different scales...This book is a significant contribution to the archaeological literature. I believe that it should be a "must-read" volume for scholars of the ancient Maya and would be stimulating reading for any archaeologist interested in early political economies.
CHOICE - R. A. Joyce
These papers, originally presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in 2000, offer a unique overview of current research on the prehispanic Maya's political economy, defined by the editors as the "ways in which economic production and exchange are manipulated to support the power of a society's leaders." ... The reintroduction of economic issues is a welcome complement to recent studies of Maya political organization based primarily on texts and images. The contributions include important overviews of the organization of production and exchange of salt,ceramics, shell, cacao, and obsidian, including discussion of the development of currencies and markets. They span all periods from the preclassic through the early colonial and cover the Maya lowlands... several contributors (West, Foias, Dahlin and Ardren, and Hanson) offer highly readable papers that make important arguments sure to sustain debate for some time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759100817
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2002
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Marilyn A. Masson is an anthropologist at the State University of New York, Albany. David A. Freidel is an anthropologist at Southern Methodist University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Ch. 2 The Nouveau Elite Potlatch: One Scenario for the Monumental Rise of Early Civilizations 31
Ch. 3 The Origins of Maya Civilization: The Old Shell Game, Commodity, Treasure, and Kingship 41
Ch. 4 The Passage of the Late Preclassic into the Early Classic 87
Ch. 5 Praise the Ajaw and Pass the Kakaw: Xibun Maya and the Political Economy of Cacao 123
Ch. 6 Ceramic Exchange in the Late Classic and Postclassic Maya Lowlands: A Diachronic Approach 140
Ch. 7 Dynamics of Regional Integration in Northwestern Belize 197
Ch. 8 At the Crossroads: The Economic Basis of Political Power in the Petexbatun Region 223
Ch. 9 Modes of Exchange and Regional Patterns: Chunchucmil, Yucatan 249
Ch. 10 Praise the Gods and Pass the Obsidian?: The Organization of Ancient Economy in San Martin Jilotepeque, Guatemala 285
Ch. 11 New Perspectives on the Prehispanic Maya Salt Trade 307
Ch. 12 Community Economy and the Mercantile Transformation in Postclassic Northeastern Belize 335
Ch. 13 In Praise of Garbage: Historical Archaeology, Households, and the Maya Political Economy 365
Ch. 14 Perspectives on Economy and Theory 398
Index 419
About the Authors 433
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