Modeling Maya markets

Author(s): Eleanor King

Year: 2016


A profusion of data now supports the existence—long doubted—of markets in the Maya area prior to the Postclassic (C.E. 900-1500). Using a range of approaches from examining the effects of market exchange on artifact distributions to identifying marketplaces within sites, researchers have established that markets were important building blocks for Classic Maya (C.E. 250-900) economies. To date, however, models of prehispanic Maya markets remain nebulous. Scholars continue to rely on frameworks drawn from other areas and on often distinctly western concepts to explain Maya market organization and function. While cross-cultural concepts and comparisons can be useful, they need to supplement rather than substitute for the Maya cultural evidence. Using ethnohistorical and ethnographic information, this paper seeks to model how Maya markets may have worked and articulated with other modes of exchange at different geographical scales. The results will be evaluated against archaeological evidence from sites where markets are either identified or suspected to exist. The intent is not to create a single, overarching model, but rather to infuse more of Maya perspective into our current views and to stimulate the development of models that conform more comfortably to how the Maya organized their economic, social, and political lives.

Cite this Record

Modeling Maya markets. Eleanor King. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403024)


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