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Cultural Variation in the Maya City of Palenque

Herckis, Lauren R. (2015) Cultural Variation in the Maya City of Palenque. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Mesoamerican archaeological research has made recent inroads toward an understanding of the cultural diversity inherent in hinterland settlements and amongst commoners. Research in other disciplines has long shone a light on the many ways in which people who imagine themselves part of the same larger community may construct their identities through varying interpretations of community characteristics. Little archaeological research has been undertaken at the intersection of these concepts: the role of the city in hinterland identity and vice versa, particularly in the ways that common people living on the fringes of urban centers and people living in the urban core of ancient cities might differentially perform identity through domestic ritual and daily practice.
This research presents a case study in the elaboration of difference across commoner households in two hinterland neighborhoods associated with the ancient Maya city of Palenque, focusing particularly on the ways in which the dynamic force of human agency can shape production, exchange, and domestic ritual. A diachronic examination of domestic remains reveals a high degree of complex heterogeneity at the level of the neighborhood. Two clusters of house groups located approximately fifteen kilometers apart were situated differently in the economic, political, urban, and ritual landscapes of the Palenque polity. Commoners living in these neighborhoods both shaped and were shaped by the ritual practices and political economy of Palenque’s dynastic elites.
A set of unifying political and economic trends which span the region played different roles in the lives of people living in different neighborhoods. Some distinctions between neighborhoods, such as variation in household ritual, the use of fossils and fossil-bearing materials, food processing and feasting practices, the use of imported volcanic materials, and the technostylistic choices made by potters, demonstrate ways in which people living in close proximity to one another were selective about their engagement with larger trends.
Other distinctions, such as differences in chipped stone tool production, consumption, and exchange, ceramic production and exchange, and the kinds of imported resources used in hinterland households, illustrate the different roles played by inhabitants of different neighborhoods in the political economy of the Palenque polity.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Herckis, Lauren R.0000-0002-3177-2412
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDrennan, Robertdrennan@pitt.eduDRENNAN
Committee Memberde Montmollin, Olivierolly@pitt.eduOLLY
Committee MemberBermann, Marcbermarc@pitt.eduBERMARC
Committee MemberPutnam, Laralep12@pitt.eduLEP12
Date: 21 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 April 2015
Approval Date: 21 September 2015
Submission Date: 21 August 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 219
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Maya, domestic ritual, Chiapas, Palenque, household archaeology, obsidian exchange
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2015 13:06
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:30


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