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Ten - The Emergence of Monte Albán

A Social Innovation That Lasted a Millennium

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 October 2021

T. L. Thurston
Affiliation:
University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Manuel Fernández-Götz
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
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Summary

Monte Albán, one of Mexico’s earliest cities, was founded in the Valley of Oaxaca around 500 bc as a central fulcrum in a dynamic episode of change that grounds subsequent regional history. Proposed explanations for the establishment of Monte Albán are numerous and diverse; yet, to date, they tend to emphasize only the agency of the elite. Here, we offer new theoretical perspectives on the dynamic processes associated with this multifaceted, transitional episode. Adopting a multiscalar approach, we view this transition as the outcome of innovative social negotiations that yielded new opportunities and social contracts that ultimately advantaged both certain powerful individuals as well as larger segments of the population. The collective mode of governance that was instituted (ca. 500 bc) at this early Mesoamerican city proved to be resilient, enduring for more than a millennium, despite challenges, adjustments, and changes over time.

Type
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Power from Below in Premodern Societies
The Dynamics of Political Complexity in the Archaeological Record
, pp. 220 - 246
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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