Ancient Maya Politics: A Political Anthropology of the Classic Period 150–900 CE

October 30, 2020
Ancient Maya Politics: A Political Anthropology of the Classic Period 150–900 CE

The Classic Maya have long presented scholars with vexingproblems. One of the longest running and most contested of these,and the source of deeply polarized interpretations, has been theirpolitical organization. Using recently deciphered inscriptions andfresh archaeological finds, Simon Martin argues that thisparticular debate can be laid to rest. He offers a comprehensivere-analysis of the issue in an effort to answer a simple question:how did a multitude of small kingdoms survive for some six hundredyears without being subsumed within larger states or empires? Usingpreviously unexploited comparative and theoretical approaches,Martin suggests mechanisms that maintained a 'dynamic equilibrium'within a system best understood not as an array of individualpolities but an interactive whole. With its rebirth as text-backedhistorical archaeology, Maya studies has entered a new phase, onecapable of building a political anthropology as robust as any otherwe have for the ancient world.