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Social Change and the Evolution of Ceramic Production and Distribution in a Maya Community

by Dean E. Arnold

Hardcover Price $78.00
Ebook Price $61.00
30-day ebook rental price $9.99

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Mesoamerican Worlds Series

"This important volume will be of interest to everyone involved with ethnoarchaeology, archaeological ceramic analysis, and the contemporary Maya people. . . . The richness in detail and wonderful blending of ethnography and archaeology make this volume important and valuable and a pleasure to read."
—Thomas J. Guderjan, Ethnohistory

"This book is a mine bursting with detailed information on a pottery technology and the ways in which it has changed across 32 years of observation. It will be a source of inspiration and, more important, a source of beautifully organized and presented data on the shifts in that technology over time. It provides the opportunity for students to explore alternative explanations and to test them against real data from this exceptional longitudinal study."
—William A. Longacre, Journal of Anthropological Research

"[A] significant contribution to Mesoamerican ethnography and ethnoarchaeology. The work has much to offer scholars, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates with interests in Maya studies, ceramic technology, or the application of ethnographic analogies to challenging archaeological questions . . . this is an example of ethnography at its best."
—Christopher R. Andres, The Nahua Newsletter

"Arnold's book sets a high standard for all future ethnographic research in general, as well as more specifically in craft specialization and production. His parsimonious tests, his clear identification of theoretical considerations, and his use of the literature provide a comparative basis for understanding organizations, household production, and change in our world today."
—Anabel Ford, Current Anthropology

"All who are interested in ethnoarchaeology, pottery, and craft specialization should read this book and it would be a welcome text for courses focusing on ethnoarchaeology. Dean Arnold's remarkable commitment to ceramic ethnoarchaeology research in Ticul is a significant contribution to the field of archaeology."
—John W. Arthur, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"All archaeologists studying ceramics should read this comprehensive and thought provoking book."
—Michael Deal, The Americas

"This book is unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon. If you have an interest in the production and distribution of pottery, or in craft production more generally, there will most certainly be observations of interest to you here."
—James Aimers, Bulletin of Latin American Research


How and why do ceramics and their production change through time? Social Change and the Evolution of Ceramic Production and Distribution in a Maya Community is a unique ethno-archaeological study that attempts to answer these questions by tracing social change among potters and changes in the production and distribution of their pottery in a single Mexican community between 1965 and 1997.

Dean E. Arnold made ten visits to Ticul, Yucatan, Mexico, witnessing the changes in transportation infrastructure, the use of piped water, and the development of tourist resorts. Even in this context of social change and changes in the demand for pottery, most of the potters in 1997 came from the families that had made pottery in 1965. This book traces changes and continuities in that population of potters, in the demand and distribution of pottery, and in the procurement of clay and temper, paste composition, forming, and firing.

In this volume, Arnold bridges the gap between archaeology and ethnography, using his analysis of contemporary ceramic production and distribution to generate new theoretical explanations for archaeologists working with pottery from antiquity. When the descriptions and explanations of Arnold's findings in Ticul are placed in the context of the literature on craft specialization, a number of insights can be applied to the archaeological record that confirm, contradict, and nuance generalizations concerning the evolution of ceramic specialization. This book will be of special interest to anthropologists, archaeologists, and ethnographers.


Further Reviews

Technology and Culture


Dean E. Arnold is adjunct curator of anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and professor emeritus of anthropology at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has taught anthropology for forty-three years; done field work in Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, and the Southwest; and published four books, including the seminal Ceramic Theory and Cultural Process, and more than sixty articles about potters, pottery, and pottery production and related subjects (such as Maya Blue). Arnold was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico and Peru, a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall at University of Cambridge in 1985, and a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Archaeology there in 1985, 1992, and 2000. He received the Society for American Archaeology’s Award for Excellence in Ceramic Studies in 1996. In 2003, he received the Charles R. Jenkins Award for Distinguished Achievement from the National Executive Council of Lambda Alpha (the National Collegiate Honor Society for Anthropology). He received the Wheaton College Senior Faculty Scholarship Achievement Award in 2001 and the Wheaton College Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Service to Alma Mater in 2008.

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  • Hardcover Price: $78.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-87081-923-0
  • Ebook Price: $61.00
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-0-87081-991-9
  • Publication Year: 2009
  • Pages: 432
  • Illustrations: 52 b&w photographs
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Dean E. Arnold
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87081-923-0
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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