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 Mesoamericas 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-theorised 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 socio-political organisation and builds a framework for future study of the correlation of ritual and ideological expression with social position for Mesoamericanists and archaeologists worldwide.
Nancy Gonlin is a senior associate professor of Anthropology at Bellevue College, Washington, where she was awarded the Margin of Excellence Award in 2012. She is co-editor of Commoner Ritual and Ideology in Ancient Mesoamerica, Ancient Households of the Americas and Human Adaptation in Ancient Mesoamerica. She also co-author of Copan: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Maya Kingdom. Jon C. Lohse is a research associate at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Principal Investigator at Coastal Environments, Inc.