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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Late and Terminal Classic power shifts in Yucatan: The view from Popola
by Johnson, Scott Albert Joseph, Ph.D., Tulane University, 2012, 780; 3519905
Abstract (Summary)

Popola was a small village in north-central Yucatan. The site has evidence of occupation from the Middle Preclassic through the Postclassic, with a demographic peak in the Late and Terminal Classic periods. Popola's population peak occurs at a time of local political upheaval. The large site of Yaxuna, 5 km SSW of Popola, had been the dominant regional trade and elite center since the Preclassic. In the Late and Terminal Classic, the site of Chichen Itza, just 13 km NNE of Popola, increased in population and status, eventually dominating Yaxuna and much of the peninsula. The rise of Chichen Itza has been characterized as a major sociopolitical transition in many studies. This project aims to understand the effects of this transition on the small peasant community at Popola.

Anthropologists and archaeologists have used community studies to discuss populations for years. In this project, the community concept has been used as an organizational framework to address the effects of political change on various segments of society at Popola. Some communities are defined through spatial arguments, while conceptual communities are identified by social correlates. The data collected over four years of field work identify a number of communities present at Popola: elites, commoners, political affiliations, potters, traders, households, and the village. Individuals may belong to more than one community, and the examination of various communities present within a single village gives a more complete picture of how it was affected by change.

Elites and politically affiliated communities may have been most strongly affected by the rise of Chichen Itza, while the non-elites and other local communities experienced relative stasis. The single elite structure at Popola showed strong architectural, iconographic, and material links to the elite community at Yaxuna. The local elite community does not appear to have been active after the rise of Chichen Itza. In contrast, the non-elite population at Popola showed great continuity of architecture, occupational density, and material remains throughout the Late and Terminal Classic periods. While the rise of Chichen Itza may have been a major transition for the elite communities across Yucatan, evidence from Popola suggests this change did not affect the majority of the population in a similar fashion.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Andrews, E. Wyllys, V
School: Tulane University
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 73/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Latin American history, Latin American Studies, Native American studies
Keywords: Community studies, Late Classic, Maya, Mexico, Popola, Terminal Classic, Yucatan
Publication Number: 3519905
ISBN: 978-1-267-47024-9
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