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The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica A Reader



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Twenty-three of the most influential essays by leading scholars are brought together in this Reader, revealing the rich variety of cultures and societies that existed in ancient Mesoamerica. Expert editorial introductions explain the context and significance of the contributions, and extensive bibliographies facilitate further research. This illustrated volume includes the results of the most up-to-date research on a wide range of social practices, cultures, and time periods. Among the subjects addressed are social, economic, and political organization, as well as religion and ideology. The readings are arranged thematically rather than by region in order to compare the main characteristics of Mesoamerican city and rural life, and to bring out both the unity and diversity of these ancient peoples.

Author Biography

Michael E. Smith is Professor of Anthropology, State University of New York at Albany. He is an archaeologist specializing in the study of the Aztecs of central Mexico, and has directed fieldwork projects at Aztec sites in the Mexican state of Morelos. He is the author of The Aztecs (Blackwell, 1996); co-author and co-editor of Aztec Imperial Strategies (with Frances Berdan et al., 1996) and co-editor of Economies and Polities in the Aztec Realm (with Mary G. Hodge, 1994).

Marilyn A. Masson is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany. She is a Mesoamerican archaeologist currently focusing on the Postclassic period of the Maya lowlands under the auspices of the Belize Postclassic Project, formed in 1996. She is co-editor of The Belize Postclassic Project 1998: Investigations at Progresso Lagoon (1999).

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Mesoamerican Civilizations
The Organization of Society
Editors' Introduction
Analyzing Household Activities
Distinguishing the High and Mighty from the Hoi Polloi at Tikal, Guatemala
On the Nature of the Mesoamerican City
Corporate Groups and Domestic Activities at Teotihuacan
Economic Organization
Editors' Introduction
Landscapes of Cultivation in Mesoamerica on the Eve of the Conquest
Lithic Craft Specialization and Product Distribution at the Maya Site of Colha, Belize
Economic Change in the Lowland Maya Late Classical Period
Imports and Exports in Classic Mesoamerican Political Economy
Principles of Regional and Long-distance Trade in the Aztec Empire
New Perspectives on Prehispanic Highland Mesoamerica: A Macroregional Approach
Rural Economy in Late Postclassic Morelos: An Archaeological Study
Political Organization
Editors' Introduction
The Power of Prestige: Competitive Generosity and the Emergence of Rank Societies in Lowland Mesoamerica
Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs
Ideology in Ancient Maya Cultural Evolution: The Dynamics of Galactic Policies
State and Society at Teotihuacan, Mexico
Militarism and Social Organization at Xochicalco, Morelos
The Four Priests: Political Stability
Religion and ideology
Editors' Introduction
Art, Ritual, and Rulership in the Olmec World
Ancient Zapotec Ritual and Religion: An Application of the Direct Historical Approach
Kingship in the Late Preclassic Lowlands: The Instruments and Places of Ritual Power
Postclassic Maya Ritual at Laguna de On Island, Belize
Figurines and the Aztec State: Testing the Effectiveness of Ideological Domination
Living with the Ancestors: Kinship and Kingship in Ancient Maya Society
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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