chapter  Chapter twenty-Five
18 Pages

Classic Maya geopolitics

WithSimon Martin

One of the most important and long-running debates in Maya studies, and the subject of polarized positions, is Classic Maya political organization. But over recent years a combination of epigraphic and archaeological advances has essentially settled the issue and opened up deeper and richer questions that lie beyond. The Classic Maya world was a multi-polity landscape in which there were asymmetries of power and wealth. Strong kingdoms achieved their expansionistic aims not by directly administering subject territories but by establishing a hegemonic network of patron-client relationships. The scholarly project at hand is to explain how the “dynamic equilibrium” of their political order was maintained and therefore why no polity was able or willing to achieve greater consolidation.