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The Study of Value: Social, Economic and Political Dimensions of Palace Complexes at El Zotz

Czapiewska-Halliday, E; (2018) The Study of Value: Social, Economic and Political Dimensions of Palace Complexes at El Zotz. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The concentration of wealth and resources under the control of a privileged few – the elites – has shaped the ways we perceive modern societies and the ways we study ancient states. Elite groups feature prominently within the archaeological research of ancient Maya societies, not least because of the monumental architecture associated with them and the glyphic inscriptions providing us with their names and titles. The growth of an elite class through time led to the emergence of multiple elite households coexisting, sharing, and competing for the political powers within ancient Maya polities. This thesis investigates the dimensions and relationships among various elite households excavated at the ancient Maya site of El Zotz, Petén, Guatemala. The key facets of the social, economic and political networks at the site are identified through trends in consumption behaviour by five different populations through time. Theories of value underpinning the current work state that various types of objects carried different ‘values’ which ultimately affected the ways these objects were distributed within societies, and determined which population groups were granted access to distribution networks. The consumption behaviour of elites and the distribution networks at El Zotz are investigated through the study of ceramic remains. Typological and modal analyses of El Zotz pottery employed in the current research highlight the extent to which limited access to goods existed within ancient Maya societies. Multiple lines of quantitative, statistical and qualitative analysis of El Zotz ceramics prove that various households at the site had access to the distribution networks of ‘high-value’ objects, but the accumulation of wealth across elite compounds changed through time. Therefore, the elite lineages of El Zotz experienced various socio-economic shifts, much like other sites in the Petén region, which affected their ability to accumulate wealth at different points in history.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Study of Value: Social, Economic and Political Dimensions of Palace Complexes at El Zotz
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048196
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