Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Maya Trade: Transport Costs as an Indicator of Developing Efficiency
by Dowling, Patrick J., Ph.D., Tulane University, 2012, 328; 3519944
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation describes the result of a study of the transport costs of obsidian in the Prehispanic Maya area as an indicator of efforts over time to control the costs to the merchant of delivering his goods for sale at the site of consumption. Information about the success of such efforts sheds light on the question of whether Maya trade occurred in the context of a market economy or of an administered economy.

A brief introduction reviews earlier literature on Maya trade as well as trade models that have been especially influential in this field.

The first part of the study is an overview of Maya trade as it was found and recorded at the time of the Spanish contact, and is derived mostly from primary documentary and secondary historical sources. This section includes information about trade goods, transport routes, ports, methods of transport, trading vessels, and what was recorded at the time of contact about the identity practices of merchants. Economic considerations such as money, transport costs, and market structure are reviewed.

In the second part of the study sourced obsidian excavated in the Maya area is traced along its most likely transport routes from its sources to the sites of excavation. The route is divided into segments depending on the mode of transport, and the cost of such transport, measured in calories, is calculated by adding the caloric expenditure for each mode of transport. The results of these measurements are contrasted with similarly calculated data derived from obsidian samples found in Soconusco.

The third section of the study summarizes major trends in the data, focusing particularly on what they can tell us about the development of Maya trade, the development of technology, the relation of Maya trade to previous economic models. Finally, an ethnographic analogy suggests how these data may he causally related to known events in Maya history.

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, Native American studies
Keywords: Market economy, Maya, Obsidian, Profit, Trade, Transport costs
Publication Number: 3519944
ISBN: 9781267517333
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