The Maya World: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Maya World

1st Edition

Edited by Scott R. Hudson, Traci Ardren


1,096 pages | 149 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138492837
pub: 2020-06-16
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The Maya World brings together over sixty authors, representing the fields of archaeology, art history, epigraphy, geography, and ethnography, who explore cutting edge research on every major facet of the ancient Maya and all sub-regions within the Maya world.

The Maya world, which covers Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador, contains over a hundred ruins that are open to tourism, eight of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and many thousands more that await investigation. In addition to captivating the lay public, the ancient Maya have attracted scores of major interdisciplinary research expeditions and hundreds of smaller projects going back to the 19th century, making them one of the best-known ancient cultures. The Maya World explores their renowned writing system, towering stone pyramids, exquisitely painted murals, and elaborate funerary tombs as well as their creative agricultural strategies, complex social, economic, and political relationships, widespread interactions with other societies, and remarkable cultural resilience in the face of historical ruptures.

This is an invaluable reference volume for scholars of the ancient Maya, including archaeologists, historians and anthropologists.


"A compendium that brings together the latest research built on deep foundations of archaeological, historical, paleo-ecological, and epigraphic study. A must for the bookshelf of every investigator of the ancient Maya!" - Dr. Mary Miller, Getty Research Institute, USA

"A volume of unprecedented riches, this book instructs, guides, and inspires with its far-ranging and lucid essays about ancient Maya civilization. My main regret is not having this compendium as a student! It will lead us all forward. Majestic and authoritative." - Dr. Stephen D. Houston, Brown University, USA

"It has been generations since Maya studies had a really great handbook for students, experts and everyone interested in the subject. This sharply current book delivers. The Maya World is a superb compendium of finely written, intellectually exciting and highly informative essays by leading experts in the field. I will turn to it regularly and I recommend everyone else who reads it do the same." - David A. Freidel, Washington University, St. Louis, USA

"A rich collection of up-to-date essays by top authorities on all aspects of the culture, politics, livelihood and achievements of the ancient Maya. A triumph of scholarship, it can be read with profit by specialists and students, as well as by visitors to the realm of the Maya." - Michael D. Coe (1929-2019), Yale University, USA

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction, Traci Ardren and Scott Hutson

Section 1: Beginnings

Introduction to Beginnings Section

Chapter 2: Archaic Maya Matters, Jon C. Lohse

Chapter 3: Public Architecture and the Rise of Complexity in the Middle Preclassic, M. Kathryn Brown

and Travis W. Stanton

Chapter 4: The Southern Maya Lowlands in the Late Preclassic, James Doyle

Chapter 5: The Late Preclassic Pacific Slope, Julia Guernsey and Michael Love

Chapter 6: The Maya Highlands and the Late Preclassic: Kaminaljuyu as a Case Study, Barbara Arroyo

Section 2: Bodies

Introduction to Bodies Section

Chapter 7: Maya Bioarchaeology, Vera Tiesler

Chapter 8: Graves, Dead Bodies, Souls, and Ancestors, Andrew Scherer

Chapter 9: Gender and Sexuality, Traci Ardren

Chapter 10: Human-Animal Relations in the Maya World, Arianne Boileau, Nicolas Delsol, and

Kitty Emery

Chapter 11: Favored Plants of the Maya, Cameron McNeil

Chapter 12: Migration and Mobility in the Eastern Maya Lowlands, Carolyn Freiwald

Section 3: Landscapes

Introduction to Landscapes Section

Chapter 13 Paleoecology, Soil, and Water in Maya History, Tim Beach, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Nicholas Dunning, Samantha Krause

Chapter 14 Settlement Patterns, Thomas G. Garrison

Chapter 15 Ancient Maya Ports, Port Facilities, and Navigation, Anthony P. Andrews

Chapter 16 Cave Use Among the Ancient Maya, Holley Moyes

Chapter 17 Ancient Maya Rurality: Old Assumptions, Current Research and New Directions, Céline C.


Chapter 18 Lakamha: the place of "Big Waters". The archaeology of the ancient city of Palenque,

Mexico, Rodrigo Liendo Stuardo

Chapter 19 The Maya City of Caracol, Belize: The Integration of an Anthropogenic Landscape, Arlen F.

Chase, Diane Z. Chase, and Adrian S. Z. Chase

Chapter 20: Ek’ Balam: A Maya City In The Urban Landscape of Yucatan, Leticia Vargas De la Peña, Víctor

R. Castillo Borges, Alejandra Alonso Olvera, and Alfonso Lacadena García-Gallo

Section 4: Relations

Introduction to Relations Section

Chapter 21 Household Archaeology of the Classic Period Lowland Maya, Nancy Gonlin

Chapter 22 Inequality and social groups, Scott R. Hutson

Chapter 23 Maya Relations with the Material World, Eleanor Harrison-Buck

Chapter 24 Maya Commerce, Eleanor King

Chapter 25 Classic Maya Geopolitics, Simon Martin

Chapter 26 The Politics of Conflict: War before and beyond the State in Maya Society, Omar Alcover Firpi

and Charles Golden

Section 5: Production

Introduction to Production Section

Chapter 27: Ancient Maya Agriculture, Nicholas P. Dunning, Timothy Beach, and Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach

Chapter 28: The Maya Forest: A Domesticated Landscape, Anabel Ford

Chapter 29: The Complexity of Ancient Maya Craft Production, Michael G. Callaghan and Brigitte


Chapter 30: Animating Materials: The Sculpted Forms of the Ancient Maya World, Megan E. O’Neil

Chapter 31: Maya Mural Painting, Heather Hurst

Chapter 32: Recent Developments in Maya Epigraphic Research, Mallory E. Matsumoto and Nicholas P. Carter

Chapter 33: Time, David Stuart

Chapter 34: Maya Rites, Rituals, and Ceremonies, Miguel Astor-Aguilera

Section 6: Interactions

Introduction to Interactions Section

Chapter 35: Olmecs and Other Western Neighbors, Takeshi Inomata

Chapter 36: Interactions between Ancient Teotihuacan and the Maya World, Sabura Sugiyama and

Nawa Sugiyama

Chapter 37: Southeast Mesoamerica, Edward Schortman and Patricia Urban

Chapter 38: Classic and Postclassic Peoples of the Pacific Coast, Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

Chapter 39: The Northern Maya Tollans, William M. Ringle

Section 7: Resilience, Legacies, and Transformations

Introduction to Resilience, Legacies, and Transformations Section

Chapter 40: Collapse, Transformation, Reorganization: The Terminal Classic Transition in the Maya

World, Jason Yaeger

Chapter 41: The Structures of Everyday Life in the Postclassic Urban Setting of Mayapan, Marilyn

Masson and Timothy Hare

Chapter 42: Archaeology of Colonial Yucatán, Patricia A. McAnany, Ivan Batun Alpuche, and Maia


Chapter 43: The Archaeology of Henequen Haciendas: San Pedro Cholul as a Case Study, Héctor

Hernández Álvarez, Lilia Fernández Souza and Mario Zimmermann

Chapter 44: Lacandon Maya Culture Continuity and Change, Joel Palka

About the Editors

Scott Hutson teaches at the University of Kentucky. He has written the books The Ancient Urban Maya (2016) and Dwelling, Identity, and the Maya (2010). He also edited Ancient Maya Commerce: Multi-disciplinary Research at Chunchucmil (2017) and co-wrote (with Ian Hodder) the third edition of Reading the Past (2003). He has been doing fieldwork in the Maya lowlands, usually focusing on household archaeology, settlement patterns, and ritual practice, since 1996.

Traci Ardren is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Miami. She is an anthropological archaeologist interested in issues of identity and other forms of symbolic representation in the archaeological record. Traci is co-director of the Proyecto Sacbe Yaxuna-Coba, at the Classic Maya site of Yaxuna, in Yucatan, Mexico where she investigates the ways ancient road systems allowed for the flow of information and ideas as well as how culinary tourism and modern foodways intersect. As Consulting Curator for Mesoamerican Art, Traci curated a number of exhibits of ancient New World art at the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami.

About the Series

Routledge Worlds

The Routledge Worlds are magisterial surveys of key historical epochs, edited and written by world-renowned experts. Giving unprecedented breadth and depth of coverage, they are the works against which all future books on their subjects will be judged and are essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in the subject.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology