Journal of Archaeological Research

Marilyn A. Masson*, Timothy S. Hare, Carlos Peraza Lope, Bárbara C. Escamilla Ojeda, Elizabeth H. Paris, Betsy Kohut, Bradley W. Russell, Wilberth Cruz Alvarado


ABSTRACT: The complexity of the organization of craft production mirrors multiple aspects of the larger political economies of premodern states. At the late Maya urban center of Mayapán, variation in the social contexts of crafting within a single settlement defies simple classificatory models that once held sway in the literature of nonWestern state societies. Most surplus crafters were independent and affluent commoners; notable exceptions include artisans working under direct elite supervision or elites who were directly engaged in crafting. Although household workshops concentrated around the city’s epicenter, others were dispersed across the site in unassuming residential neighborhoods or near outlying monumental groups. We consider the significance of pronounced household and regional economic interdependencies founded on well-developed surplus crafting practices, imported raw materials, market exchange, and tribute obligations at Mayapán. As for other premodern states, craft production also gave rise to greater opportunities for wealth differentiation within the commoner class. Producers in this urban political capital contributed in significant ways to a stable political economy by supplying goods that were required at all levels of the social hierarchy.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates and Staff