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Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Native Puerto Rico
Native American cultures of Puerto Rico prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1493.
Conceptualizing What Households Do
In Ancient Households of the Americas archaeologists investigate the fundamental role of household production in ancient, colonial, and contemporary households. Several different cultures—Iroquois, Coosa, Anasazi, Hohokam, San Agustín, Wankarani, Formative Gulf Coast Mexico, and Formative, Classic, Colonial, and contemporary Maya—are analyzed through the lens of household archaeology in concrete, data-driven case studies. The text is divided into three sections: Section I examines the spatial and social organization and context of household production; Section II looks at the role and results of households as primary producers; and Section III investigates the role of, and interplay among, households in their greater political and socioeconomic communities. In the past few decades, household archaeology has made substantial contributions to our understanding and explanation of the past through the documentation of the household as a social unit—whether small or large, rural or urban, commoner or elite. These case studies from a broad swath of the Americas make Ancient Households of the Americas extremely valuable for continuing the comparative interdisciplinary study of households.
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.
The Archaeology of Transient Space
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.
Archaeologists are unsure exactly when the Maya inhabited the coastal areas of Belize, but ample evidence exists to support an extensive maritime trade network along the coast by A.D. 600 This volume focuses on the maritime trade network sites on Ambergris Caye, Belize where excavations have revealed remnants of very small villages, or camps, along the Caribbean coastline.
Archaeology and the Arts
Known widely in Europe as "interpretive narrative archaeology," the practice of using creative methods to interpret and present current knowledge of the past is gaining popularity in North America. This book is the first compilation of international case studies of the various artistic methods used in this new form of education—one that makes archaeology "come alive" for the nonprofessional. Plays, opera, visual art, stories, poetry, performance dance, music, sculpture, digital imagery—all can effectively communicate archaeological processes and cultural values to public audiences.
The 23 contributors to this volume are a diverse group of archaeologists, educators, and artisans who have direct experience in schools, museums, and at archaeological sites. Citing specific examples, such as the film The English Patient, science fiction mysteries, and hypertext environments, they explain how creative imagination and the power of visual and audio media can personalize, contextualize, and demystify the research process. A 16-page color section illuminates their examples, and an accompanying CD includes relevant videos, music, web sites, and additional color images.
In their Introduction, the editors invoke the ancient muses to inspire the modern presenters and interpreters of archaeological research. They aptly quote George Santayana, from his poem "The Power of Art":
". . . may our hands immortalize the day
When life was sweet, and save from utter death
The sacred past that should not pass away."
John H. Jameson Jr. is an archaeologist and John E. Ehrenhard is Director at the National Park Service's Southeast Archeological Center in Tallahassee, Florida. Christine A. Finn is research associate at the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford in England.