Concepts of Collapse and Regeneration in Human History

George L. Cowgill

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Concepts of Collapse and Regeneration in Human History

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This article focuses on the concepts of collapse and regeneration employed by Mesoamericanists. Much mischief is caused by ambiguities about what it is that is supposed to be collapsing or regenerating. Most often, what is at issue is either the fragmentation of a large polity or the termination of a major cultural tradition. Mesoamericanists have not always clearly distinguished the fragmentation of polities from the termination of major cultural traditions. In discussing collapses and regenerations in Mesoamerica, it seems best to focus on political alternations, although migrations, demographic changes, and alterations of ethnic identities must be also considered. Scholars can, and will discuss the fates of cultural traditions, but they should make themselves clear on the distinction between that and the histories of polities.

Keywords: Mesoamerica; complex societies; collapse; regeneration; Mesoamericanists; polities; cultural traditions

Article.  3053 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region ; Historical Archaeology

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