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ARCHAEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON CLASSIC MAYA SOCIAL ORGANIZATION FROM CARACOL, BELIZE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2004

Diane Z. Chase
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Central Florida, PO Box 25000, Orlando, FL 32816-1360, USA
Arlen F. Chase
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Central Florida, PO Box 25000, Orlando, FL 32816-1360, USA

Abstract

Inferring ancient social and political organization from the archaeological record is a difficult task. Generally, the models used to interpret the Classic-period Maya (a.d. 250–900) have been borrowed from other societies and other times and thus also reflect etic conceptions of the past. Maya social and political organization has been interpreted as varying in complexity. Those who would model a less complex Classic Maya social structure have tended to employ lineage models and segmentation. Models of a more complex Classic Maya civilization focus on different social levels and on a breakdown of some kinship systems. Other models, such as that of the “noble house,” represent attempts to find a middle ground. Yet archaeological and epigraphic data that have been gathered for the Classic Maya place parameters on any interpretation that is generated. Data collected from Caracol, Belize, over the past 19 years can be used to illustrate the problems that arise in the strict application of “ideal” social models to the Classic Maya situation. These same data also provide parameters for the reconstruction of ancient sociopolitical organization.

Type
SPECIAL SECTION: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON ANCIENT LOWLAND MAYA SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
Copyright
© 2004 Cambridge University Press

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