The Rise and Fall of Civilizations: Modern Archaeological Approaches to Ancient Cultures

By C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky ; Jeremy A. Sabloff | Go to book overview

William L. Rathje received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1971 and is now an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. He has worked in the south‐ western United States and Mesoamerica and has recently co-directed a project with J. A. Sabloff which has explored the ancient port-of-trade at Cozumel, Mexico.

There is no agreement among archaeologists on the reasons for the rise of Classic Maya civilization. In any case, the answer is certain to be a complex one. In this stimulating article, Rathje suggests that a climate and topography that on first glance appear to be a detriment to the development of a civilization were, in fact, instrumental in its rise.


The Origin and Development of
Lowland Classic Maya Civilization

William L. Rathje

The southern Maya lowlands present a largely redundant environment which does not possess the potential for major internal symbiotic regions or for irrigation. In fact, the interior of this region is uniformly deficient in resources essential to the efficiency of every individual household engaged in the Mesoamerican agricultural subsistence economy: mineral salt, obsidian for blades, and hard stone for grinding. Yet, in the core of this rain forest region, the basic elements of Classic Maya civilization first coalesced. A model involving methods of procuring and distributing the resources necessary to the efficiency of an agricultural subsistence economy explains the loci of lowland Classic Maya development and the order in which these loci developed. This model can also be applied to the Olmec civilization.

A major archaeological problem today seems to be-why did the lowland Maya civilization evolve in its ecological setting? This paper will develop a hypothesis to explain the evolution of lowland Classic Maya civilization.

Since I subscribe to cultural ecology, the environmental configuration of the Petén rain forest is an obvious beginning. This expansive ecological zone has been characterized as lacking developmental potential because: (1) the environment is redundant in access to resources; (2) transportation of goods is difficult; and (3) slash-and-burn agriculture is the main subsistence technique. As a result, it is thought that there was little stimulus toward trade and redistribution; nucleated centers were rarely maintained and a scattered light settlement was typical; and there were no obvious changes in the subsistence system through time which would have required community efforts and caused increasing ceremonialism ( Meggers 1954; Palerm and Wolf 1957; M. Coe 1961; Sanders 1964;

____________________
Reproduced by permission of the Society for American Archaeology and the author, from American Antiquity, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 275-285, 1971.

-84-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Rise and Fall of Civilizations: Modern Archaeological Approaches to Ancient Cultures
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 485

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.