Ceramic Chronology and Current Visions of the "Terminal Classic" and Collapse in the Southern Maya Lowlands: A Brief Desultory Philippic
Recent popular interpretations have proposed that the "Terminal Classic" in the southern lowlands was a gradual transition or slow multi-stage process or that many ninth and tenth century centers continued to prosper; or even have proposed a "What collapse?" scenario. Yet systematic site by site review of ceramic chronologies and evidence reveals that these characterizations and, indeed, the whole debate are poorly informed due to errors in ceramic typologies and limited understandings of the nature and complexity of the ceramic record, especially regarding the many Fine Paste ceramic types. Site level interpretation is hindered by insufficient excavation of stratified middens and minimal lab time. This generates long, undivided and incoherently defined "Terminal Classic" phases, overreliance on "the last dated monument" and elite iconography, and selective use of disparate data, which together create a Rorschach Test for any favored model or correlation. Corrective measures require more refined ceramic chronologies and careful intersite comparisons based on reorientation of resources to middens and lab work. On a positive note, by piecing together evidence from ceramic work that does meet high standards, a more convincing picture of ninth and tenth century landscapes may be beginning to emerge from the methodological fog.
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Ceramic Chronology and Current Visions of the "Terminal Classic" and Collapse in the Southern Maya Lowlands: A Brief Desultory Philippic. Matt O'Mansky, Arthur Demarest. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431902)
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min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;
Abstract Id(s): 17152