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The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica: A Reader



The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica: A Reader

Michael E. Smith (Editor), Marilyn A. Masson (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-631-21116-7 April 2000 Wiley-Blackwell 520 Pages

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The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica: A Reader brings together twenty-three of the most influential essays by leading scholars to reveal the rich variety of cultures and societies that existed in ancient Mesoamerica.
Notes on Contributors.



Introduction: Mesoamerican Civilizations: Marilyn A. Masson and Michael E. Smith (both at State University of New York at Albany).

Part I: The Organization of Society:.

Editors' Introduction.

1. Analyzing Household Activities: Kent V. Flannery (University of Michigan) and Marcus C. Winter (Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Oaxacca, Mexico).

2. Distinguishing the High and Mighty from the Hoi Polloi at Tikal, Guatemala: William A. Haviland (University of Vermont) and Hattula Moholy-Nagy (University of Michigan).

3. On the Nature of the Mesoamerican City: Joyce Marcus (University of Michigan).

4. Corporate Groups and Domestic Activities at Teotihuacan: Linda Manzanilla (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).

Part II: Economic Organization:.

Editors' Introduction.

5. Landscapes of Cultivation in Mesoamerica on the Eve of the Conquest: Thomas M. Whitmore (University of North Carolina) and B. L. Turner II (Clark University).

6. Lithic Craft Specialization and Product Distribution at the Maya Site of Colha, Belize: Harry J. Shafer (Texas A & M University) and Thomas R. Hester (University of Texas).

7. Economic Change in the Lowland Maya Late Classical Period: Prudence M. Rice (Southern Illinois University).

8. Imports and Exports in Classic Mesoamerican Political Economy: The Tehuacan Valley and the Teotihuacan Obsidian Industry: Robert D. Drennan (University of Pittsburgh), Philip T. Fitzgibbons (Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio), Heinz Dehn (University of Pittsburgh (retired)).

9. Principles of Regional and Long-distance Trade in the Aztec Empire: Frances F. Berdan (California State University, San Bernardino).

10. New Perspectives on Prehispanic Highland Mesoamerica: A Macroregional Approach: Gary M. Feinman and Linda M. Nicholas (both Field Museum of Natural History).

11. Rural Economy in Late Postclassic Morelos: An Archaeological Study: Michael E. Smith, Cynthia Heath-Smith (both State University of New York at Albany).

Part III: Political Organization:.

Editors' Introduction.

12. The Power of Prestige: Competitive Generosity and the Emergence of Rank Societies in Lowland Mesoamerica: John E. Clark (Brigham Young University) and Michael Blake (University of British Columbia).

13. Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs: Peter Mathews (University of Calgary).

14. Ideology in Ancient Maya Cultural Evolution: The Dynamics of Galactic Policies: Arthur A. Demarest (Vanderbilt University).

15. State and Society at Teotihuacan, Mexico: George L. Cowgill (Arizona State University).

16. Militarism and Social Organization at Xochicalco, Morelos: Kenneth G. Hirth (Pennsylvania State University).

17. The Four Priests: Political Stability: John M. D. Pohl (University of California, Los Angeles).

Part IV: Religion and ideology:.

Editors' Introduction.

18. Art, Ritual, and Rulership in the Olmec World: F. Kent Reilly, III (Southwest Texas State University).

19. Ancient Zapotec Ritual and Religion: An Application of the Direct Historical Approach: Joyce Marcus and Kent V. Flannery (both University of Michigan).

20. Kingship in the Late Preclassic Lowlands: The Instruments and Places of Ritual Power: David A. Freidel (Southern Methodist University) and Linda Schele (deceased).

21. Postclassic Maya Ritual at Laguna de On Island, Belize: Marilyn A. Masson (State University of New York at Albany).

22. Figurines and the Aztec State: Testing the Effectiveness of Ideological Domination: Elizabeth M. Brumfiel (Albion College, Michigan).

23. Living with the Ancestors: Kinship and Kingship in Ancient Maya Society: Patricia A. McAnany (Boston University).


"This volume is one of a very few that deal with the whole array of civilizations in ancient Mexico and Central America. It will be a welcome companion for readers new to the astonishing achievements and daunting variety of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The editors have chosen well: the papers collected here highlight the common threads that bind Mesoamerican civilizations together, while portraying their individuality and reflecting the diversity of approaches the archaeologists bring to the task of interpreting them." John S. Henderson, Cornell University

"Access to these important articles, as a set, will quickly prove indispensable for courses - and general reading - on Mesoamerican archaeology. The editors' introductions are equally valuable and thought-provoking as they situate the individual chapters, as well as the cross-cutting themes, in a sophisticated, highly readable review of current thinking." Wendy Ashmore, University of Pennsylvania

  • Innovative thematic organization compares and contrasts social and cultural organization among the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations.

  • Contains up-to-date research by leading archaeologists.

  • Attractively illustrated with maps, photos, line drawings, and tables.

  • Articles chosen for inclusion have been class-tested for accessibility and student interest.