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Journal of Archaeological Research

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 117–155 | Cite as

The Elusive Maya Marketplace: An Archaeological Consideration of the Evidence

  • Leslie C. Shaw
Article

Abstract

The modeling of ancient Maya economies has been a dynamic area of archaeological research in the past few decades, but in most cases there has been little attention on how goods actually changed hands. Through an overview of the literature, this paper considers marketplace exchange as one mechanism of distribution. Researchers have proposed a number of physical features and artifact characteristics that may be expected in association with marketplace activity, and new methods of data collection have been offered that can be used to build a case for marketplace exchange. What remains is the challenge of developing strategies to identify ancient Maya marketplaces convincingly through archaeological excavation.

Keywords

Maya Marketplace Market economy Mesoamerica Trade 

Notes

Acknowledgments

My thinking on Maya marketplaces has benefited greatly from conversations I have had with many people, and I particularly thank Eleanor King who has been my primary sounding board for this topic. I also acknowledge and thank the members of a symposium on markets that Eleanor King and I organized for the 2007 Society for American Archaeology meetings, and they include Marshall Becker, Daniel Bair, Bernadette Cap, Bruce Dahlin, Christopher Jones, Angela Keller, Claire Novotny, Richard Terry, E. Christian Wells, Susan Wurtzburg, and the two discussants, Elizabeth Brumfiel and Robert Sharer. Bruce Dahlin has shared a number of his ideas and project data, both of which have been very helpful. I also thank the Belize Institute for Archaeology, part of the National Institute of Culture and History, for their support of the Maax Na project that I codirect with Eleanor King. Our interest in Maya marketplaces brought out many beneficial discussions in the field, particularly with Claire Allum, Dana Anthony, Beverly Chiarulli, Darcie Flanigan, Jon Lohse, Rissa Trachman, and Fred Valdez. The final editing of this article has benefited greatly from the input of Gary Feinman, John Cross, Lauren Cross, Eleanor King, and Linda Nicholas as well as the anonymous reviewers.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyBowdoin CollegeBrunswickUSA

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