Ideology and Pre-Columbian Civilizations (School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series)

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9780933452831: Ideology and Pre-Columbian Civilizations (School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series)

Employing data from central Mexico, the Maya area, coastal Peru, and highland Peru and Bolivia, directors of several major archaeological field projects interpret evidence of prehistoric ideology and address the question, has ideology any relevance in the reconstruction of prehistory?

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The role played by ideology in the evolution of civilizations is being energetically debated by archaeologists, but until now the theoretical debates have had little impact on the actual interpretation of field data from Mesoamerica or South America. Studies of pre-Columbian ideology have generally used historical, ethnohistorical, and iconographic data to look synchronically at specific ancient religions. Little progress has been made in applying archaeological information to address the broader problem of the role of ideology in prehistoric episodes of culture change. Has ideology any relevance in the reconstruction of prehistory? An advanced seminar at the School of American Research brought together the directors of several major archaeological field projects to address this question in the pre-Columbian context. The resulting papers, collected in this volume, employ data from central Mexico, the Maya area, coastal Peru, and highland Peru and Bolivia to interpret evidence of prehistoric ideology. The authors of these papers take a variety of theoretical approaches, seeking to understand how ideology interacts with the ecological, economic, and political factors involved in culture change. They are concerned not with ideologies or cosmologies per se but with the effect of ideology on power relations, since the expansions and collapses of civilizations are, in the end, the successes and failures of political systems.

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This excellent volume consists of ten papers by archeologists debating the role of ideology in the formation and development of Pre-Columbian civilizations. The participants include directors of regional field projects that have reconstructed episodes of the rise and expansions of complex societies... [T]he rich material offered in this book ... maintains the balance between broader theoretical perspectives and concrete data of the cultures involved. --Minnema Lourens, Bijdragen, Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie En Theologie 56 (1995)

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