336 pages, 6 x 9
38 line drawings, 6 tables
Release Date:12 Nov 2015
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The Ancient Maya Marketplace

The Archaeology of Transient Space

Edited by Eleanor M. King
The University of Arizona Press
Trading was the favorite occupation of the Maya, according to early Spanish observers such as Fray Diego de Landa (1566). Yet scholars of the Maya have long dismissed trade—specifically, market exchange—as unimportant. They argue that the Maya subsisted primarily on agriculture, with long-distance trade playing a minor role in a largely non-commercialized economy.

The Ancient Maya Marketplace reviews the debate on Maya markets and offers compelling new evidence for the existence and identification of ancient marketplaces in the Maya Lowlands. Its authors rethink the prevailing views about Maya economic organization and offer new perspectives. They attribute the dearth of Maya market research to two factors: persistent assumptions that Maya society and its rainforest environment lacked complexity, and an absence of physical evidence for marketplaces—a problem that plagues market research around the world.

Many Mayanists now agree that no site was self-sufficient, and that from the earliest times robust local and regional exchange existed alongside long-distance trade. Contributors to this volume suggest that marketplaces, the physical spaces signifying the presence of a market economy, did not exist for purely economic reasons but served to exchange information and create social ties as well.

The Ancient Maya Marketplace offers concrete links between Maya archaeology, ethnohistory, and contemporary cultures. Its in-depth review of current research will help future investigators to recognize and document marketplaces as a long-standing Maya cultural practice. The volume also provides detailed comparative data for premodern societies elsewhere in the world.
The book is a landmark because the ancient Maya have always been seen as an outlier when it comes to commerce.”—Scott R. Hutson, author of Dwelling, Identity and the Ancient Maya
Eleanor M. King is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Howard University. She is the co-director of the Maax Na Archaeology Project in northwestern Belize.

Introduction. Research on Maya Markets
Eleanor M. King and Leslie C. Shaw
1. The Ethnohistoric Evidence for Maya Markets and Its Archaeological Implications
Eleanor M. King
2. The Marketplace at Tikal
Christopher Jones
3. Ancient Maya Markets: Architectural Grammar and Market Identifications
Marshall Joseph Becker
4. How to Know It When We See It: Marketplace Identification at the Classic Maya Site of Buenavista del Cayo, Belize
Bernadette Cap
5. Soil Chemistry in the Search for Ancient Maya Marketplaces
Richard E. Terry, Daniel A. Bair, and Eric G. Coronel
6. The Maya Marketplace at Maax Na, Belize
Leslie C. Shaw and Eleanor M. King
7. Markets and Marketing in the Classic Maya Lowlands: A Case Study from El Perú-Waka’
Keith Eppich and David Freidel
8. Markets Among the Ancient Maya: The Case of Caracol, Belize
Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, Richard E. Terry, Jacob M. Horlacher, and Adrian S. Z. Chase
9. Contemporary Maya Marketplaces: Gender, Social Change, and Implications for the Past
Susan J. Wurtzburg

References Cited
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