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Ref ID: 25198
Ref Type: Book Section in a Series
Authors: Scarborough, Vernon L.
Valdez, Fred
Title: The Alternative Economy: Resilience in the Face of Complexity from the Eastern Lowlands
Date: 2014
Source: The Resilience and Vulnerability of Ancient Landscapes: Transforming Maya Archaeology through IHOPE
Publisher: American Anthropological Association
Abstract: The ancient eastern Maya Lowlands are characterized by both small, highly resilient communities and the growth of large regional centers. The smaller communities, separated by 2–5 kilometers and dispersed across the landscape, established a circle of interdependency between one another and a spatial separation from the largest centers. Degrees of sustainability were achieved through time by way of a negotiated settlement and land use balance within the relatively fragile biophysical environment. Because tropical ecosystems are identified by low specific species richness in any one patch or microenvironment, humans tend to mimic this spatial dispersion—a high‐density “ruralism.” When assessed by way of high humidity and precipitation, decomposition and disease were significant deranging factors affecting surplus and storage. Roads and navigable canal systems shorten the time necessary for distribution of organics—principally food
and when coupled with routinized scheduling (calendars), time and distance were reduced. Salting and “natural” root crop preservation techniques are discussed. A dual or alternative economy is proposed in the context social complexity.
Date Created: 8/13/2019
Editors: Chase, Arlen F.
Scarborough, Vernon L.
Number: 24
Page Start: 124
Page End: 141
Series Editor: Goldstein, Lynne
Series Title: Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association