Commoner Ritual and Ideology in Ancient Mesoamerica

edited by Nancy Gonlin and Jon C. Lohse

Mesoamerican Worlds Series

"The best treatment of the subject matter to date."
—Marcello A. Canuto, Yale University


Were most commoners in ancient Mesoamerica poor? In a material sense, yes, probably so. Were they poor in their beliefs and culture? Certainly not, as Commoner Ritual and Ideology in Ancient Mesoamerica demonstrates.

This volume explores the ritual life of Mesoamerica's common citizens, inside and outside of the domestic sphere, from Formative through Postclassic periods. Building from the premise that ritual and ideological expression inhered at all levels of society in Mesoamerica, the contributors demonstrate that ideology did not emanate solely from exalted individuals and that commoner ritual expression was not limited to household contexts. Taking an empirical approach to this under-studied and under-theorized area, contributors use material evidence to discover how commoner status conditioned the expression of ideas and values.

Revealing complex social hierarchies that varied across time and region, this volume offers theoretical approaches to commoner ideology, religious practice, and sociopolitical organization and builds a framework for future study of the correlation of ritual and ideological expression with social position for Mesoamericanists and archaeologists worldwide.

Contributors: Luis Barba, John G. Douglass, Nancy Gonlin, Alicia Herrera Muzgo T., Arthur A. Joyce, Jon C. Lohse, Cira Martínez López, Linda Manzanilla, Robert Markens, Geoffrey G. McCafferty, Mark W. Mehrer, Jan Olson, Agustín Ortiz, Patricia Plunket, Gabriela Uruñuela, Errin T. Weller, Marcus Winter


Nancy Gonlin is a Mesoamerican archaeologist who specializes in daily and nightly practices, household studies, and inequality. She serves as co-editor of the Cambridge journal Ancient Mesoamerica. Her publications include the co-edited volumes Commoner Ritual and Ideology in Ancient MesoamericaAncient Households of the Americas, Human Adaptation in Ancient Mesoamerica, and Archaeology of the Night. She is co-author of Copán: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Maya Kingdom. Watch her TEDx talk "Life After Dark in the Ancient World" here.

Jon C. Lohse is a research associate at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Principal Investigator at Coastal Environments, Inc.

Imprint: University Press of Colorado

Book Details

  • Paperback Price: $29.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-588-8
  • Ebook Price: $24.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-0-87081-920-9
  • Publication Year: 2007
  • Pages: 352
  • Illustrations: 42 b&w photographs, 26 drawings, 14 maps, 10 tbls
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by Nancy Gonlin and Jon C. Lohse
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87081-845-5