Landscape, Economies, and the Politics of Power in the Motul de San José Polity

Kitty F. Emery and Antonia E. Foias

in Motul de San José

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041902
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043425 | DOI:
Landscape, Economies, and the Politics of Power in the Motul de San José Polity

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This chapter by Kitty F. Emery and Antonia E. Foias presents an integrated view of the landscape, economy, and politics of the Motul de San José polity at its apogee during the Late Classic (A.D. 600-830). Shifting attention from general principles of centralization or decentralization, the chapter aims to provide a more detailed and more nuanced perspective on political institutions at different scales, and their interaction with the exploitation of the environment of the Central Petén Lakes zone in the southern Maya lowlands. Recent research has underlined that political power is not a static quantity, but it is much more fluid, and contingent on situations, contexts and the actors involved. The interaction between political power and the resources provided by the environment is critical to this dynamism as both elites and commoners use these natural resources to sustain themselves and advance the goals of their households, communities, and polities. The Late Classic Maya polity centered on Motul de San José was small and dwarfed by its neighbor Tikal and its political affairs. The investigations revealed that features seen as characteristic of both centralized and decentralized states appear at Motul. Both a tribute system and palace economy tied the commoners and elites into the political economy of the state.

Keywords: Classic Maya; Archaeology; Ancient environment; Political economy

Chapter.  7417 words. 

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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