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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.
This dissertation focuses on hinterland social complexity in northwestern Belize. The archaeological site of Hun Tun was investigated to understand ancient Maya life ways in a household context. The site itself contributes to the institutions that form social complexity during the Late Classic Maya Chronology. Hun Tun is located on the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area in northwestern Belize and serves as the location for this dissertation research. Hun Tun research is part of a collaborative research endeavor aimed at understanding the various institutions that form Maya society. Initial data for this project began with the creation of a site map and cursory test-pit excavations. Survey expeditions yielded an abundance of information regarding the potential for long- term research poised to answer questions about social complexity at the household level. Settlement pattern studies began as the first priority of research following the traditions of following in the traditions of Willey (1953), Ashmore (1981, 1991), Ashmore and Sabloff (2002), Villamil (2007) and others. Whereas, ancient Maya commoner studies focuses on the support groups and their roles participating in ancient Maya society became a long-tern research endeavor at Hun Tun. Ancient Maya commoners serve as a focus for this study due to the size and scale of Hun Tun. Commoners are appropriate for a study regarding social complexity because they successfully adapt “to their social environments,” responding to external forces and pressures applied by others (Lohse and Valdez 2004). These adaptations can be observed in the Hun Tun archaeological record Other examples of Hun Tun social complexity at the household level include the recruitment of high quality limestone material, complex architecture, storage and maintenance of clay, and various examples of commoner rituals. Hun Tun is an agent of social formation, which challenges preconceived notions of household social complexity in a Late Classic hinterland context.

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