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For more than a century researchers have studied Maya ruins, and sites like Tikal, Palenque, Copán, and Chichén Itzá have shaped our understanding of the Maya. Yet the lowlands of Belize, which were once home to a rich urban tradition that persisted and evolved for almost 2,000 years, are treated as peripheral to these great Classic period sites. The hot and humid climate and dense forests are inhospitable and make preservation of the ruins difficult, but this oft-ignored area reveals much about Maya urbanism and culture.
Using data collected from different sites throughout the Maya lowlands, including the Vaca Plateau and the Belize River Valley, Brett Houk presents the first synthesis of these unique monuments and discusses methods for mapping and excavating. Considering the sites through the theoretical lenses of the built environment and ancient urban planning, Houk vividly reconstructs their political history, how they fit into the larger political landscape of the Classic Maya, and how the ancient cities fell apart over time.
Politics dominates the public arena and always has, which is one reason it can provide great insight into the lives of ancient people. Because of the richness and complexity of Maya society, archaeologists and anthropologists have spent decades attempting to reconstruct its political systems.
In Ancient Maya Political Dynamics, Antonia Foias begins by reexamining recent scholarship, placing it within a larger anthropological framework. By taking a cross-cultural approach and bringing in relevant material from other archaeological areas around the world, she breaks new ground and demonstrates how anthropologists worldwide understand and reconstruct ancient political systems.
Foias argues that there is no single Maya political history, but multiple histories, no single Maya state, but multiple polities that need to be understood at the level of the lived experience of individuals. She explores the ways in which the dynamics of political power shaped the lives and landscape of the Maya and how this information can be used to look at other complex societies.
Classification, Analysis, and Interpretation
The ancient Maya produced a broad range of ceramics that has attracted concerted scholarly attention for over a century. Pottery sherds--the most abundant artifacts recovered from sites--reveal much about artistic expression, religious ritual, economic systems, cooking traditions, and cultural exchange in Maya society.
Today, nearly every Maya archaeologist uses the type-variety classificatory framework for studying sherd collections. This impressive volume brings together many of the archaeologists signally involved in the analysis and interpretation of ancient Maya ceramics and represents new findings and state-of-the-art thinking. The result is a book that serves both as a valuable resource for archaeologists involved in pottery classification, analysis, and interpretation and as an illuminating exploration of ancient Mayan culture.
Most research into humans' impact on the environment has focused on large-scale societies; a corollary assumption has been that small scale economies are sustainable and in harmony with nature. The contributors to this volume challenge this notion, revealing how such communities shaped their environment--and not always in a positive way.
Offering case studies from around the world--from Brazil to Japan, Denmark to the Rocky Mountains--the chapters empirically demonstrate the substantial transformations of the surrounding landscape made by hunter-gatherer and limited horticultural societies. Summarizing previous research as well as presenting new data, this book shows that the environmental impact and legacy of societies are not always proportional their size.
Understanding that our species leaves a footprint wherever it has been leads to both a better understanding of our prehistoric past and to deeper implications for our future relationship to the world around us.
Archaeological artifacts have become a traded commodity in large part because the global reach of Western society allows easy access to the world's archaeological heritage. Acquired by the world's leading museums and private collectors, antiquities have been removed from archaeological sites, monuments, or cultural institutions and illegally traded. This collection of essays by world-recognized experts investigates the ways that com-modifying artifacts fuels the destruction of archaeological heritage and considers what can be done to protect it. Despite growing national and international legislation to protect cultural heritage, increasing numbers of archaeological sites--among them, war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq--are subject to pillage as the monetary value of artifacts rises. Offering comprehensive examinations of archaeological site looting, the antiquities trade, the ruin of cultural heritage resources, and the international efforts to combat their destruction, the authors argue that the antiquities market impacts cultural heritage around the world and is a burgeoning global crisis.
Death, Memory, and Veneration
Contributors to this landmark volume demonstrate that ancestor veneration was about much more than claiming property rights: the spirits of the dead were central to domestic disputes, displays of wealth, and power and status relationships. Case studies from China, Africa, Europe, and Mesoamerica use the evidence of art, architecture, ritual, and burial practices to explore the complex roles of ancestors in the past. Including a comprehensive overview of nearly two hundred years of anthropological research, The Archaeology of Ancestors reveals how and why societies remember and revere the dead. Through analyses of human remains, ritual deposits, and historical documents, contributors explain how ancestors were woven into the social fabric of the living.
In the early twentieth century, an industrial salmon cannery thrived along the Fraser River in British Columbia. Chinese factory workers lived in an adjoining bunkhouse, and Japanese fishermen lived with their families in a nearby camp. Today the complex is nearly gone and the site overgrown with vegetation, but artifacts from these immigrant communities linger just beneath the surface.
In this groundbreaking comparative archaeological study of Asian immigrants in North America, Douglas Ross excavates the Ewen Cannery to explore how its immigrant workers formed a new cultural identity in the face of dramatic displacement. Ross demonstrates how some homeland practices persisted while others changed in response to new contextual factors, reflecting the complexity of migrant experiences. Instead of treating ethnicity as a bounded, stable category, Ross shows that ethnic identity is shaped and transformed as cultural traditions from home and host societies come together in the context of local choices, structural constraints, and consumer society.
Using a late-nineteenth-century California resort as a case study, Stacey Camp discusses how the parameters of citizenship and national belonging have been defined and redefined since Europeans arrived on the continent. In a unique and powerful contribution to the field of historical archaeology, Camp uses of the remnants of material culture to reveal how those in power sought to mold the composition of the United States as well as how those on the margins of American society carved out their own definitions of citizenship.
Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco
In this interdisciplinary study, Barbara Voss examines religious, environmental, cultural, and political differences at the Presidio of San Francisco, California to reveal the development of social identities within the colony. Voss reconciles material culture with historical records, challenging widely held beliefs about ethnic growth.