Household Archaeology and the Ancient Maya


Julia A. Hendon

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1



The ancient Maya lived in households, some very large and wealthy, some very small and poor. This chapter discusses why the study of ancient households is important and what archaeologists in the May area have learned from research on places where people lived. Household archaeology coalesced as a theoretical approach in Mesoamerican archaeology in the 1980s. this chapter first gives some historical background on the study of Maya settlements by reviewing the development of settlement pattern studies, a vital precursor to the ability of archaeologists to study the household and daily life. It then discusses several aspects of Maya households that exemplify why households "are the most important social units in human society" (Hirth 2009a: 13). [excerpt]

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