Life During Collapse: Sociopolitical and Economic Behaviors of Non-elite Maya at Floodplain North Settlement Cluster, Belize
Studies of the Maya collapse often focus on broad concepts, such as causes of the collapse, or they explore how the political fragmentation affected elites. The everyday Maya is frequently omitted from discussions. This dissertation investigates the role of rural Maya commoners during collapse of the political and economic institutions in the Terminal Classic Period (780-950 AD). The effects of region-wide disruptions in the political and economic institutions were long-reaching and would have affected the commoners of even the smallest settlement. This research explores how deeply hinterland residents felt those affects. Investigations occurred at household groups in a small settlement cluster, Floodplain North, located in the hinterlands of Xunantunich. Research consisted of excavations of a commoner settlement, collection of cultural materials, and artifact analysis. These methods allowed for the identification of patterned changes and continuities regarding community responses to large-scale phenomena. Drawing from collapse and household literature, I address questions related to political reorganization and the utilization of various economic strategies at Floodplain North in the wake of the political collapse. I explore the daily practices employed by commoners to better understand the larger political and economic transformations during and following the collapse. This dissertation argues Maya commoners of the Mopan Valley in Western Belize actively engaged in the various transformations that characterized the Terminal Classic period and collapse.