Reconstructing Classic Maya socioeconomic differentiation and the collapse at Dos Pilas, Peten, Guatemala

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Three field seasons of extensive residential archaeology at Dos Pilas, Peten, Guatemala, provide important data for the examination of ancient Maya social structure and the Classic Period collapse in the Petexbatun region. A sampling strategy guiding excavations in structures of different size and architectural configuration enables us to reconstruct the multifaceted, segmented nature of Maya social inequalities and helps to elucidate the effects of the collapse on the lives of people of various socioeconomic ranks and statuses. Other significant findings of the project include hieroglyphic vessels and stone sculptures in nonroyal elite domestic compounds, postcollapse occupation in the settlement, as well as continued craft production and interregional trade into Terminal Classic times and after elite abandonment of the site. The results of household archaeology at Dos Pilas, which demonstrate that elites were affected first and foremost during the collapse, support theories of intensified elite competition, socio-political instability, and warfare for the Maya downfall in the Petexbatun Region, and not environmental degradation or breakdowns in interregional trade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-306
Number of pages14
JournalAncient Mesoamerica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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