The ancient Maya city of Aguateca, Guatemala, is an extraordinary archaeological site. Around AD 810, this settlement was attacked and the central part of the city burned, a casualty of the fractious Late Classic period (ca. AD 600–900). Its rapid abandonment by the ruling family and affiliated elites left behind rich floor assemblages within structures in the city center, providing evidence of the lives and activities of members of the royal court. In this sense, Aguateca is extraordinary because of both its remarkable preservation and its elite finds. One reading of Takeshi Inomata and Daniela Triadan's volume is a record of something very special but also something that is removed from what most archaeologists will find, or what most ancient Maya people experienced. What does one take away from a unique site like this, and how generalizable are conclusions drawn from this...

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