September 8, 2001 Dr. Marilyn Masson:     "Mayapan's Realm: Core-Periphery Symbolic and  Economic Relationships in the Postclassic Maya World"

Marilyn Masson's talk described patterns of political and economic
development at two Postclassic Maya island communities in northern Belize,
Laguna de On and Caye Coco. These Belizean sites were part of the Chetumal
province, one of the most affluent Postclassic Maya polities during the reign
of Mayapan (13th-15th centuries) in northern Yucatan and at the time of
Spanish contact. These inland lagoon settlements were integrated into a
larger world of Postclassic Maya trade networks stimulated by the activities
of first, Chichen Itza, and later, Mayapan, and they reflect the power of
these centers in a distant hinterland location. New evidence suggests the
relatively "decentralized" political landscape of the Postclassic Maya world
(outside of the northwest Yucatan polity of Mayapan) was nonetheless highly
integrated through systems of economic exchange and ritual participation. In
some ways, this level of integration surpasses that observed in other
periods, when lowland Maya utilitarian economies were more localized. The
networks of power of the center of Mayapan were rooted not so much in direct
political control, but in diplomacy, alliance, and exchange symbiosis.
Although this phenomena is described in Colonial accounts, new data from
Belize and new interpretations of ritual patterns at Mayapan, Tulum, and
Santa Rita provide additional evidence for the forms of power wielded by
this important Postclassic center among its allied provinces along the east coast
of the Yucatan peninsula.

Dr. Marilyn Masson is an Assistant Professor at The University at Albany -
SUNY. She has worked in Belize since 1983, and has specifically focused on
the Postclassic period since her dissertation work in 1991. She is the
director of the Belize Postclassic and Colonial Projects, and The Economic
Foundations of Mayapan project (with Lic. Carlos Peraza of Centro INAH -
Yucatan), beginning in the Summer of 2001. Masson is the author of three
books, "In the Realm of Nachan Kan" (2000, University of Colorado Press),
"Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica: A Reader" (with Michael E. Smith,
2000, Blackwell Press), and "Ancient Maya Political Economies (with David
Freidel, in press, Altamira Press). She has begun a new book project,
entitled "Kukulkan's Realm: The Politics and Economy of the Postclassic
City."

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