Basal platform mounds at Chau Hiix, Belize: Evidence for ancient Maya social structure and cottage industry manufacturing

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/282545
Title:
Basal platform mounds at Chau Hiix, Belize: Evidence for ancient Maya social structure and cottage industry manufacturing
Author:
Cook, Patricia Maria, 1965-
Issue Date:
1997
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Traditional interpretations of ancient Maya social organization formulated more than half a century ago persist in current reconstructions. These proffer an ancient culture dichotomized into two distinct groups, elites and commoners, based on distinct social or economic characteristics. Recent research has shown that this theoretical dichotomy is unrealistic. A continuum in artifact assemblages and quantities, architectural sizes, styles and construction techniques, burial and cache contents, and other data sets indicate that interpretations identifying specific contexts as either elite or commoner are difficult to make. This has led some Mayanists to propose the existence of a middle class in ancient Maya society. This separate class is identifiable in the archaeological record by certain architectural units and limited access to restricted items. A multiple class reconstruction of ancient Maya culture more easily explains the diversity found in the archaeological record, and offers alternative models of Maya social, economic, and political systems. The Basal Platform Mound Project investigated a particular architectural type, the basal platform mound, that was hypothesized to represent the middle class. Excavations were undertaken at the site of Chau Hiix, in northern Belize, between 1993 and 1997. The four goals of the project were: (1) to identify and define a middle class within an ancient Maya community; (2) to determine the economic and social roles of this class within the ancient society at Chau Hiix during the Late Classic through Postclassic periods; (3) to determine the internal variability within this stratum as an indicator of the complexity of social systems among the ancient Maya; and (4) to determine if using the intersection of particular architectural styles and select artifact categories to identify social class is appropriate. This dissertation reports the results of the Basal Platform Mound Project, and offers a reconstruction of ancient Maya social, economic, and political trajectories that incorporates a middle class as a dynamic factor. A model is presented in which the middle class played a crucial role during the transition from the Late and Terminal Classic to the Postclassic periods, participating directly in the economic system as producers and perhaps as distributors. The flexibility and variability documented within this social group may be key to understanding the diverse developmental trajectories exhibited by different sites across the Maya Lowlands.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Anthropology, Archaeology.; Anthropology, Cultural.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Anthropology
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Culbert, T. Patrick

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleBasal platform mounds at Chau Hiix, Belize: Evidence for ancient Maya social structure and cottage industry manufacturingen_US
dc.creatorCook, Patricia Maria, 1965-en_US
dc.contributor.authorCook, Patricia Maria, 1965-en_US
dc.date.issued1997en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractTraditional interpretations of ancient Maya social organization formulated more than half a century ago persist in current reconstructions. These proffer an ancient culture dichotomized into two distinct groups, elites and commoners, based on distinct social or economic characteristics. Recent research has shown that this theoretical dichotomy is unrealistic. A continuum in artifact assemblages and quantities, architectural sizes, styles and construction techniques, burial and cache contents, and other data sets indicate that interpretations identifying specific contexts as either elite or commoner are difficult to make. This has led some Mayanists to propose the existence of a middle class in ancient Maya society. This separate class is identifiable in the archaeological record by certain architectural units and limited access to restricted items. A multiple class reconstruction of ancient Maya culture more easily explains the diversity found in the archaeological record, and offers alternative models of Maya social, economic, and political systems. The Basal Platform Mound Project investigated a particular architectural type, the basal platform mound, that was hypothesized to represent the middle class. Excavations were undertaken at the site of Chau Hiix, in northern Belize, between 1993 and 1997. The four goals of the project were: (1) to identify and define a middle class within an ancient Maya community; (2) to determine the economic and social roles of this class within the ancient society at Chau Hiix during the Late Classic through Postclassic periods; (3) to determine the internal variability within this stratum as an indicator of the complexity of social systems among the ancient Maya; and (4) to determine if using the intersection of particular architectural styles and select artifact categories to identify social class is appropriate. This dissertation reports the results of the Basal Platform Mound Project, and offers a reconstruction of ancient Maya social, economic, and political trajectories that incorporates a middle class as a dynamic factor. A model is presented in which the middle class played a crucial role during the transition from the Late and Terminal Classic to the Postclassic periods, participating directly in the economic system as producers and perhaps as distributors. The flexibility and variability documented within this social group may be key to understanding the diverse developmental trajectories exhibited by different sites across the Maya Lowlands.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectAnthropology, Archaeology.en_US
dc.subjectAnthropology, Cultural.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAnthropologyen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorCulbert, T. Patricken_US
dc.identifier.proquest9814446en_US
dc.identifier.bibrecord.b3774477xen_US
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