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Title: Change, continuity, and the Maya collapse : reconstructing the ceramic economy in the Eastern Maya Lowlands during the classic to postclassic transition
Author: Ting, K. C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5363 7515
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis centres on the technological study of two types of Maya elite wares, namely the Ahk’utu’ Molded-carved vases, and the Zakpah ceramics, recovered from several sites across Belize. The Ahk’utu’ vases and Zakpah ceramics are the respective temporal markers of the Terminal Classic (ca. AD 800-1000) and the Early Postclassic (ca. AD 950/1000-1200/1250) periods. These periods together constitute the years of the Maya collapse and 'post-collapse', a time of significant change that remains little known. The characterisation of the ceramics by visual examination, NAA, pXRF, thin-section petrography, and SEM-EDS sought to reconstruct the identification of manufacturing technology, and patterns of production and distribution, but also served as an indicator of any alterations in the socio-political, economic, and even ideological institutions that might have effected the survival or decline of individual communities in the Maya lowlands during the transitional period. The results show that the Ahk’utu’ vases and Zakpah ceramics are characterised by the presence of considerable variation in their composition and technology on the one hand, and conformity to their own distinctive iconographic programme on the other. Based on these results, the Ahk’utu’ vases and Zakpah ceramics are argued to represent change and continuity. Change is reflected in the shift in iconographic representation from the depiction of courtly scenes to the dominance of abstract reptilian motifs. Continuity is expressed in patterns of production and distribution, although there was a tendency toward the use of local resources and localised spheres of exchange. Thus, what seems to have changed was the nature of elite identity and status, which, in the years of crisis and transition, entailed widening access to wealth. At the same time, the means of producing and maintaining the socio-political and economic structure remained largely constant throughout the Classic to Postclassic transition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available