Ancient Maya Political Dynamics

Antonia E. Foias

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"An impressive overview of recent scholarship coupled with the results of a long-term research project at the site and region of Motul de San José. It contributes significantly to the anthropological literature on politics and power." --Daniela Triadan, coeditor of Burned Palaces and Elite Residences of Aguateca

"A long overdue and particularly welcome piece of scholarly work. It synthesizes, digests, and makes available the results of the tremendous boom in political studies in the Maya area that has occurred in the last twenty years as a consequence of rapid glyph decipherment, increased archaeological data, and more sophisticated theoretical modeling." --Eleanor M. King, Howard University

The study of politics, a dominating force throughout history, can provide great insight into the lives of ancient people. Because of the richness and complexity of Maya society, archaeologists and anthropologists have spent decades attempting to reconstruct its political systems.

In Ancient Maya Political Dynamics, Antonia Foias argues that there is no single Maya political history but multiple histories, no single Maya state but multiple polities that need to be understood at the level of the lived, individual experience. She explores the ways in which the dynamics of political power shaped the lives and landscape of the Maya and how this information can be used to look at other complex societies.

Antonia E. Foias is professor of anthropology at Williams College and the coeditor of Motul de San José: Politics, History, and Economy in a Classic Maya Polity.

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“This important contribution will interest archaeologists working in Mesoamerica and beyond... highly recommended.” Choice

“Essential reading for Mayanists but its emphasis on methodology should make it valuable reading for anyone interested in early states” Antiquity

“Foias provides a refreshing take on questions long fascinating to Maya and other scholars…Foias brings in Motul de San José to great effect to illustrate the political history and interaction of a medium-size center located in the major hotbed of political intrigue” Journal of Anthropological Research

“An exemplary model of good scholarship and clearly presented arguments.” Anthropos

“An important addition to anthropological scholarship, a nuanced regional synthesis of archaeological data, and a valuable contribution to Maya studies.” American Anthropologist

“Essential reading for students and scholars of political theory, strategies of governance, weapons of the weak, and pre-Hispanic societies.” Hispanic American Historical Review

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