Maya Economies

On Classic Maya political economies
March 9, 2015 – 10:27 am
Transitions in Preclassic Maya

Cover imageLowland Maya political economies are cosmopolitical economies, with “authoritative resources”—knowledge (“symbolic capital”), especially astro-calendrical knowledge, and ostensible control of time—evolving as the basis for Classic wealth, power, and dynastic legitimacy. Within a system of rotating geopolitical capitals, elite economic activities of production, consumption, and distribution were directed toward control of luxury goods and ritual performances emphasizing privileged interactions with the cosmos and ancestors. Examples include a “ritual mode of production” focused in a palace economy, consumption manifest in lavish public rituals and feasting, and goods circulating through tribute and periodic markets. In the dispersed lowland Maya settlement system, this decentralized economy retained some features more characteristic of stateless societies.


  • Maya;
  • Political economy;
  • Cosmology;
  • Time;
  • Knowledge;
  • Power;
  • Palace economy;
  • Periodic markets
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