Ancient Maya Elite Political-Economic Practices at La Milpa North, Northwestern Belize

Author(s): Eric Heller

Year: 2015


Archaeological research has increasingly revealed the role of elite labor and influence in ancient Maya political economies. Rising awareness of the complexity of ancient Maya socioeconomic organization and attention to households as loci of production has led to new understandings of the structures and practices of production within elite households and the position of elite individuals in relations of production that extend beyond their households. Status-enhancing material goods of elite manufacture were often essential to the performative legitimization of social difference while the physical practices of elite production were themselves socially and materially transformative processes. Based on recent excavations at the Late to Terminal Classic site of La Milpa North, a hinterland palatial compound in Northwestern Belize, this paper explores various political-economic strategies employed by palace residents. These strategies include both the organization of non-elite production and the direct production of material goods necessary for the expression of identity and the socioeconomic reproduction of their household. In directing the labor of others and engaging in the manufacture, use, and exchange of status-enhancing objects, elites of La Milpa North produced and reproduced social and economic difference.

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Ancient Maya Elite Political-Economic Practices at La Milpa North, Northwestern Belize. Eric Heller. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397920)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;