Late Maya Society, Competition, and Ceramic Composition: A Petrographic Analysis of Ceramics from Mayapán

By Carmen G. Sánchez Fortoul.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Mayapán, the last Maya capital, was abandoned less than 100 years before the arrival of the Spanish to the Yucatán Península, México. During its existence (around AD 1100-1450) the archaeological record evidences a much less spectacular architecture and material remains than in earlier periods; however, Native literature and Spanish documents describe large towns, thriving markets, and entrepreneurial people. Most archeologists have interpreted the poorer material remains as indicative of a decadent society. Some have proposed an alternative view that considers the Maya at the time of contact a more egalitarian, pragmatic, and mercantile society that gave less emphasis to the construction of magnificent objects and more to profit-making activities, which brought about more competition and more generalized well-being. Borrowing from geology and petrographic analysis, this research uses a multidisciplinary approach to determine the number of ceramic recipes in Mayapán’s pottery in order to make inferences about competitiveness in this society. The results indicate the apparent selection of a pottery production technique that enhances the strength of the final result and the existence of multiple ceramic producers, suggesting a more pragmatic and competitive environment.

Keywords: Maya, Late Postclassic, Petrography, Petrographic, Mayapan, Ceramics, Ceramic, Mercantile, Decadent, Postclassic

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 9, pp.71-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.738MB).

Carmen G. Sánchez Fortoul

Graduate Student, Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA

I had worked extensively in the information system world (IT). I am currently an Archaeology graduate student at Florida Atlantic University, Florida. My areas of interest are ceramic technology and the use of technological approaches for the study of the political and economic organization of ancient societies. My research is focused on Late Maya society and on how ceramic compositional analyzes can give us a window to look into their lives. In my free time, I make pottery.

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