Patricia McAnany (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Examining hierarchy and concentrations of power in the 9th century Maya Lowlands, I suggest that its dissolution—while a painful human experience—was not equivalent to “collapse” and “extinction.” Use of apocalypse rhetoric within archaeology is traced back to the birth of the discipline and epistemological entanglements with geology & biology. An alternative approach that embraces the complexity of political cycles and highlights the manner in which political authority can be challenged to the point of dissolution is advocated. Contextual background to the 9th century Maya Lowlands indicates diverse agricultural practices and a statecraft that included tribute extraction propelled by martial conflict. A plan to analyze how this Classic Maya orthodoxy was challenged is outlined and larger implications of such a study discussed.
SFI Host: Jerry Sabloff