tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

Application of the Canonical Theory to Origin and Development of Social Complexity at Tak'alik Ab'aj, Guatemala

Author(s): Claudio Cioffi-Revilla

Year: 2017

» Downloads & Basic Metadata


This paper presents the Canonical Theory of the origin and early development of social complexity, which has previously been successfully applied to other formative polities in the Near East, early China, Inner Asia, Aspero-Caral, and Oaxaca, among others. The theory explains how and why sociopolitical complexity emerges following repeated instances of challenges and opportunities that are successfully or unsuccessfully resolved by the local community, based on extant lines of evidence. This application to the case of Tak'alik Ab'aj, located in present-day southern Guatemala, during the Preclassic period, aims at contributing to research on the earliest formative stages of Maya societies in Mesoamerica. The main findings from this application of the theory indicate that it is possible to understand the process of sociopolitical formation at Tak'alik Ab'aj as the result of iterative and prolonged processes of collective action problem-solving by the community in response to challenges and opportunities that arose over several centuries. Significant natural hazards and societal stress in various forms were among the many severe challenges faced by the early communities at Tak'alik Ab'aj. Our results contribute to theoretical development and to advancing scientific understanding of the origin and subsequent development of sociopolitical complexity.

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Cite this Record

Application of the Canonical Theory to Origin and Development of Social Complexity at Tak'alik Ab'aj, Guatemala. Claudio Cioffi-Revilla. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429150)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15545

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America