Mesoamerican Archaeology / Edition 1

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Offering an alternative to traditional textbooks, Mesoamerican Archaeology: Theory and Practice places the reader in the middle of contemporary debates by top archaeologists actively exploring the major prehispanic societies of Central America.

  • Offers a comprehensive introduction to the archaeology of Mesoamerica by focusing on key time periods, sites, and the issues these times and places require us to confront.
  • Examines key moments in the Mesoamerican historical tradition, from the earliest villages where Olmec art flourished, to the Aztec and Maya City-states that Spanish invaders described in the 16th century.
  • Engages the chronological benchmarks of precolumbian social development in Mesoamerica, such as the transition to village life, emergence of political stratification, and formation of Mesoamerican urban centers.
  • Includes an extensive introduction by the editors that situates contemporary Mesoamerican archaeology in the broader terms of the social politics of archaeology.

For further resources to use with this book - including study questions, maps and photographs - visit the website at

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is not the same old culture history but a respectablecompilation of recent fieldwork and analysis within a framework ofinnovative problem-oriented research. Joyce's introductory chapteris a synthetic tour de force." Journal of the RoyalAnthropological Institute

"With specially commissioned essays by leading scholars, this isan excellent up-to-date introduction to Mesoamerican archaeology."Oxbow Books

"In this volume archaeologists have, at last, a textbook onMesoamerica that combines recent data with current social thought.The chapters are beautifully written and provocative, giving deeperinsight into Mesoamerican cultural diversity without simplifying5000 years into a single story. Hendon and Joyce have chosencontributors who are not just specialists, but who are some of themost exciting thinkers of our generation." K. Anne Pyburn,Indiana University

"Mesoamerican Archaeology: Theory and Practice is anoutstanding book. It is exactly what we’ve needed in thefield for a very long time and should be used by everyone teachinga course in Mesoamerican archaeology. Hendon and Joyce have done anoutstanding job of integrating fresh essays by leading scholarsinto a text that is both theoretically informed and empirically upto date. The combination of theory and data make it anindispensable work." Michael Love, California State University,Northridge

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Julia A. Hendon is Associate Professor of Anthropology atGettysburg College. She is a Maya archaeologist with fieldexperience since 1980 in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, and isthe former editor of Anthropological Literature: An Index toPeriodical Articles and Essays (1988–1996).

Rosemary A. Joyce is Professor of Anthropology at theUniversity of California, Berkeley. She has been engaged inarchaeological fieldwork in Honduras since 1977. Her most recentpublications include: Gender and Power in PrehispanicMesoamerica (2001), The Languages of Archaeology (2002),and Embodied Lives: Egypt and the Ancient Maya (editor, withLynn Meskell, 2003).

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Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Preface.



List of Figures.

List of Contributors.

1. Mesoamerica: A Working Model: Rosemary A. Joyce (Universityof California, Berkeley).

2. Mesoamerica Goes Public: Early Ceremonial Centers, Leaders,and Communities: John E. Clark (Brigham Young University).

3. Shared Art Styles and Long-Distance Contact in EarlyMesoamerica: Richard G. Lesure (University of California, LosAngeles).

4. Governance and Policy at Classic Teotihuacan: Saburo Sugiyama(Aichi Prefectural University, Japan).

5. Social Identity and Daily Life at Classic Teotihuacan: LindaManzanilla (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico).

6. Social Diversity and Everyday Life within Classic MayaSettlements: Cynthia Robin (Northwestern University).

7. Classic Maya Landscapes and Settlement: Wendy Ashmore(University of California, Riverside).

8. Sacred Space and Social Relations in the Classic Valley ofOaxaca: Arthur A. Joyce (University of Colorado).

9. The Archaeology of History in Postclassic Oaxaca: John M. D.Pohl (University of California, Los Angeles).

10. Meaning by Design: Ceramics, Feasting and Figured Worlds inPostclassic Mexico: Elizabeth M. Brumfiel (Albion College).

11. The Rural and Urban Landscapes of the Aztec State: RegionalPerspectives and the Basin of Mexico Settlement Pattern Project:Deborah L. Nichols (Dartmouth College).

12. Postclassic and Colonial Period Sources on Maya Society andHistory: Julia A. Hendon (Gettysburg College).



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