Community and Difference
Change in Late Classic Maya Villages of the Petexbatun Region
Author(s): Markus Eberl
A challenge to the assumption that Precolumbian Maya village communities were egalitarian and unchanging
Through the use of sophisticated ceramic chronology techniques, the author documents how small farming communities like Nacimiento and Dos Ceibas grew from hamlets in the seventh century A.D. into villages with several hundred inhabitants. He traces how local elites emerged during the eighth century A.D. and built outsized residential groups.
Mutual exchanges in these villages leveled material wealth, but also translated into social status and legitimized social inequality. As settings for public rituals, these exchanges helped integrate the communities, while individual households conducted domestic rituals that included ancestor veneration, dedication offerings, and termination rituals.
The inhabitants of Aguateca's rural hinterland interacted on multiple levels within and beyond the boundaries of their communities. The economic, sociopolitical, and ritual changes during the Late Classic highlight the complexity and dynamism of local communities.
VIMA Series #8
Vanderbilt Institute of Mesoamerican Archaeology Studies Series, Edited by Arthur A. Demarest