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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ideological Continuities and Discontinuities in the Maya Lowlands: Terminal Classic Maya Burials at Cahal Pech, Belize
by Zanotto, Hannah H., M.A., Northern Arizona University, 2017, 308; 10283160
Abstract (Summary)

For the past century, the rise and fall of civilizations has been at the center of archaeological inquiry. However, in a world of increasing conflict and displaced populations, research trends have shifted toward understanding how cultural traditions persist and reorganize in the face of challenging circumstances. In the Maya Lowlands the Terminal Classic period (AD 750-950) represented a transitional time of increased socio-political stress as the Maya navigated through unstable political relationships, the collapse of political dynasties and the renegotiation of ideological views. Yet despite the turbulence of this dynamic time, there are millions of Maya living throughout the region today with strong ideological ties to the Maya of the Classic period. This apparent dichotomy between socio-political collapse and ideological continuity has left archaeological research in a state of polarization. To address this dichotomy, recent archaeological studies evoke resilience theory, which provides a framework for interpreting social change. This research uses a resilience perspective to examine the final interments at the polity of Cahal Pech (1200 BC- AD 950), Belize and provides a model for interpreting political collapse while still recognizing cultural continuity during the Terminal Classic period. This thesis primarily compares measurements of wealth, political affiliations, and worldviews reflected by 118 interments located throughout the polity of Cahal Pech, however it also takes into consideration the changing use of space and termination rituals that took place around the center. After examining these various lines of evidence this thesis concludes that the Terminal Classic period at Cahal Pech reflects a time of socio-political reorganization and culture change, where the Maya continued to draw on previous worldviews while simultaneously integrating new practices. Furthermore, this research suggests that while there was a breakdown of earlier socio-political networks, resilient worldviews centered around directionality continue to persist today.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Awe, Jaime
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: Department of Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 56/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Native American studies
Publication Number: 10283160
ISBN: 978-1-369-83730-8
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