Southwestern Historical Quarterly
sponsored by the Elma Dill Russell Spencer Foundation," published
by the Texas A8cM University Press. A kudo is due the press for this
University of Arizona HARWOOD P. HINTON
The Origins of Maya Civilization. Edited by Richard E. W. Adams.
(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1977. Pp. ix+465.
Foreword, preface, references, index. $2o.)
The Origins of Maya Civilization is in a sense a companion volume
to the same press's The Classic Maya Collapse (1973), and like that book
is a revised collection of papers first given at a seminar and here pre-
sented with a theme-stating introduction by Richard E. W. Adams and
T. Patrick Culbert and a synthesizing summary by Gordon R. Willey.
As did the other work, it attacks a major problem of the complex social
and cultural nature of perhaps the most highly developed pre-Colum-
bian people. A two-part question underlies the subject: did the Maya
evolve into a true civilization, and, if so, what were the decisive civiliza-
Most of the thirteen contributors agree that the Maya were "civil-
ized," though there is less agreement on the level of political evolution
of Maya civilization. The preponderance of discussion of factors leading
to the Maya shift from chiefdoms to civilized states focuses on the inter-
action of support methods with population sizes and settlement pat-
terns. Resources and methods of agriculture are seen as the crucial
factors, but various hypotheses are presented to explain the ways in
which subsistence governed Maya development. These include sug-
gested revisions of conventional descriptions of Maya agricultural prac-
tices themselves (Robert McC. Netting), analyses of such actual means
as soil types (William T. Sanders), trade and other economic factors
(William L. Rathje), and the suggestion that population squeeze pro-
duced military conflict, which in turn resulted in greater social stratifi-
cation and urbanization (David L. Webster).
Preceding these primarily hypothetical papers that comprise the
"Processes and Models" section of the book, are two more lengthy parts,
"Maya Lowland Data Bases and their Coordination" and "External
Areas and Influences." The former summarizes current archaeological
knowledge for the Preclassic and Early Classic periods in six different
Lowland regions (T. Patrick Culbert, Norman Hammond, Richard
E. W. Adams, Joseph W. Ball, Gordon R. Willey, and Robert L. Rands).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101205/. Accessed July 5, 2015.