The complexity of ancient Maya craft production

Authored by: Michael G. Callaghan , Brigitte Kovacevich

The Maya World

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  June  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138492837
eBook ISBN: 9781351029582
Adobe ISBN:


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In the Maya area, craft production was a significant part of domestic economies that included the specialized manufacture of a variety of goods and took place in both elite and commoner contexts. Crafting played a central role in a number of processes, including the creation of inalienable goods, the emergence of market economies, the maintenance and transformation of identity, risk reduction, and the establishment of patron-client relations. In this chapter we synthesize data on production from Lowland Maya sites and argue that degree of specialization and organization of production varied greatly among and within production industries. The diversity of production patterns and specialization lead us to conclude that in order to effectively study craft production among the ancient Maya we must analyze each local artifact industry on its own terms before applying a-priori assumptions or adapting conventional models.

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