Excavated households excavated lives : social reproduction, identity, and everyday life for the ancient Maya in northwestern Belize
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The primary aim of the dissertation research presented in this dissertation was a deeper understanding of ancient Maya households. A microscale analytical approach was employed towards an understanding of how households participated in and contributed to social reproduction, social identity construction, and social and economic organization, primarily for the Late Classic period (A.D. 600-900). How is/are ideology/ies reflected in ancient Maya households? Are microscale production and consumption patterns articulated to the larger society economically? Can identity be evaluated materially for the Maya at the microscale? How is Maya society reproduced? Are identities constructed at the microscale and passed from generation to generation? Excavations were conducted in the settlement areas near the site of Dos Hombres, Belize. Using an activity based approach to investigating households in the field, both architectural and non-architectural contexts were investigated in order to acquire as great a variety of data as possible including that towards subsistence activities, economic activities, everyday domestic activity such as food preparation, special domestic ritual activity, mortuary behavior, and architecture. The resulting archaeological data provided an important opportunity to consider the ways that identities were expressed materially and spatially for the ancient Maya. Identity is clearly manifest in these Maya households materially in costume elements, the use of space, and ritual symbolism. All of which are not only aspects of identity expression, they are also material mechanisms for the socialization of gender, age, and status, an important social function of the household. This research establishes that domestic social reproduction, production, consumption, ritual, and symbolism all are a part of a dynamic social system in which these Maya actors practiced everyday life not separate from or necessarily subjugated to the larger Maya universe but as an integral part of it. The study also uncovered that each household had diverse ways identity and social relationships were practiced and expressed materially. I propose a notion concerning a form of ideology born and elaborated at the microscale which allows for this fluid participation in Maya society specifically as was feasible or desired at a given moment based on a host of considerations in each household.
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