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Maya Coastal Production, Exchange, Life Style, and Population Mobility: A View from the Port of Xcambo, Yucatan, Mexico

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Article of journalSierra Sosa, Thelma; Cucina, Andrea; Price, T. Douglas; Burton, James H.; Tiesler, Vera. (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mérida, Yucatán, México; Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Facultad de Ciencias Antropológicas, México; University of Wisconsin–Madison, Department of Anthropology, Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry, Estados Unidos). Maya Coastal Production, Exchange, Life Style, and Population Mobility: A View from the Port of Xcambo, Yucatan, MexicoIn  Special Section: New Perspectives on Ancient Mesoamerican Economies  Ancient Mesoamerica, 2014 vol. 25 no. 1 p. 221-238. Keywords:
Pre-hispanic period


Anchored in archaeological, bioarchaeological, and chemical research conducted at the coastal enclave of Xcambo, this paper examines Classic period Maya coastal saline economic production and exchange, along with the lifestyle, ethnicity, and mobility of the traders. Nestled in the coastal marshlands of the northern Yucatan, Mexico, Xcambo functioned as a salt production center and port during its occupation, maintaining long-reaching ties with other parts of the Maya world and Veracruz. Considered together, the different data sets document a reorientation in Xcambo's exchange routes and connections, which are echoed by increasingly diverse cultural affiliations and an increasing geographic mobility of Xcambo's merchants. This new information confirms the known pattern of gradually intensifying, though still relatively independent, trade dynamics along the Maya coast in the centuries leading up to the so-called “Maya collapse” and the rise of a new merchant league under the control of Chichen Itza. It was this new order that probably led to the swift end of Xcambo soon after a.d. 700.

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