Regional Approaches to Society and Complexity - Alex R. Knodell

Regional Approaches to Society and Complexity - Alex R. Knodell

12. Embedded Heterarchies of the Maya: Political Structure and Interactions Inspired by Peer Polity Interaction

Regional Approaches to Society and Complexity - Alex R. Knodell

Thomas G. Garrison [+-]
Ithaca College
Thomas G. Garrison is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Ithaca College. His research focuses on the archaeology of the ancient Maya civilization and remote sensing application in archaeology. He currently directs the Proyecto Arqueológico El Zotz, in Guatemala, as well as the Maya Aerial Technology Survey. He is co-author of Temple of the Night Sun: A Royal Tomb at El Diablo, Guatemala (Mesoweb Press, 2015), and has recently published articles on Maya settlement patterns, human-environmental interaction, and remote sensing in Advances in Archaeological Practice, Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, International Journal of Remote Sensing, and Latin American Antiquity.

Description

The concept of peer polity interaction resonated with Mesoamerican scholars because of the apparent applicability of the idea to the Maya and other New World civilizations. New revelations regarding the Maya since the 1980s, provided by the near total decipherment of their writing system and a wealth of paleoenvironmental data, suggest that a new model, inspired by peer polity interaction, is appropriate. This chapter proposes an embedded heterarchy model that takes into account cultural and environmental data from the Maya lowlands. The model is based on a proposed analytical hierarchy derived from the spatial theoretical work of David L. Clarke in the 1970s, while the explanatory power of the model is provided by the application of concepts from landscape ecology theory. For the Maya, areas, territories, adaptive regions, and alliances constitute an analytical hierarchy that can be explained using the landscape ecology concepts of structure, function, and change. It is suggested that similar analytical hierarchies, perhaps driven by different bodies of theory, may be appropriate explanatory models in other traditional peer polity civilizations as well. Embedded heterarchies refer to the interactions between units of equal status within the overall analytical hierarchy. To explore the embedded heterarchy model, an example is given at the level of Maya alliances. The alliance concept is explored in depth and the Tikal Alliance of the southern Maya lowlands is used as a case study. This contribution hopes to meet an original goal of the peer polity interaction model of inspiring new, detailed research by providing fresh questions for debate.

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Citation

Garrison, Thomas. 12. Embedded Heterarchies of the Maya: Political Structure and Interactions Inspired by Peer Polity Interaction. Regional Approaches to Society and Complexity. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 246-267 Jan 2018. ISBN 9781781795279. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30815. Date accessed: 23 Oct 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30815. Jan 2018

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