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Much of what we currently know about the ancient Maya concerns the activities of the elites who ruled the societies and left records of their deeds carved on the monumental buildings and sculptures that remain as silent testimony to their power and status. But what do we know of the common folk who labored to build the temple complexes and palaces and grew the food that fed all of Maya society? This pathfinding book marshals a wide array of archaeological, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic evidence to offer the fullest understanding to date of the lifeways of ancient Maya commoners. Senior and emerging scholars contribute case studies that examine such aspects of commoner life as settlement patterns, household organization, and subsistence practices. Their reports cover most of the Maya area and the entire time span from Preclassic to Postclassic. This broad range of data helps resolve Maya commoners from a faceless mass into individual actors who successfully adapted to their social environment and who also held primary responsibility for producing the food and many other goods on which the whole Maya society depended.
A volume of classification, interpretation, and analysis of Maya pottery using the type: variety-mode approach, exploring how communities in the region interacted through the lens of ceramic exchange.
Were most commoners in ancient Mesoamerica poor? In a material sense, yes, probably so. Were they poor in their beliefs and culture? Certainly not, as Commoner Ritual and Ideology in Ancient Mesoamerica demonstrates. This volume explores the ritual life of Mesoamerica's common citizens, inside and outside of the domestic sphere, from Formative through Postclassic periods. Building from the premise that ritual and ideological expression inhered at all levels of society in Mesoamerica, the contributors demonstrate that ideology did not emanate solely from exalted individuals and that commoner ritual expression was not limited to household contexts. Taking an empirical approach to this under-studied and under-theorized area, contributors use material evidence to discover how commoner status conditioned the expression of ideas and values. Revealing complex social hierarchies that varied across time and region, this volume offers theoretical approaches to commoner ideology, religious practice, and sociopolitical organization and builds a framework for future study of the correlation of ritual and ideological expression with social position for Mesoamericanists and archaeologists worldwide.
The rich findings of recent exploration and research are incorporated in this completely revised and greatly expanded sixth edition of this standard work on the Maya people. New field discoveries, new technical advances, new successes in the decipherment of Maya writing, and new theoretical perspectives on the Maya past have made this new edition necessary.
Maya architecture is often described as "massive" and "monumental," but experiments at Copan, Honduras, convinced Elliot Abrams that 300 people could have built one of the large palaces there in only 100 days. In this groundbreaking work, Abrams explicates his theory of architectural energetics, which involves translating structures into volumes of raw and manufactured materials that are then multiplied by the time required for their production and assembly to determine the labor costs of past construction efforts. Applying this method to residential structures of the Late Classic period (A.D. 700-900) at Copan leads Abrams to posit a six-tiered hierarchic social structure of political decision making, ranging from a stratified elite to low-ranking commoners. By comparing the labor costs of construction and other economic activities, he also prompts a reconsideration of the effects of royal construction demands on commoners. How the Maya Built Their World will interest a wide audience in New and Old World anthropology, archaeology, architecture, and engineering.
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.
Ancient Maya comes to life in this new holistic and theoretical study.

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