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Ideology and Pre-Columbian Civilizations

Edited by Arthur A. Demarest and Geoffrey W. Conrad

Employing data from central Mexico, the Maya area, coastal Peru, and highland Peru and Bolivia, directors of several major archaeological field projects interpret evidence of prehistoric ideology and address the question, has ideology any relevance in the reconstruction of prehistory?

1992. 280 pp., 16 black-and-white illustrations, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Robert L. Carneiro, Geoffrey W. Conrad, George L. Cowgill, Arthur A. Demarest, David A. Freidel, Susan D. Gillespie, David C. Grove, Alan L. Kolata, Robert McC. Adams, David J. Wilson

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“This excellent volume consists of ten papers by archeologists debating the role of ideology in the formation and development of Pre-Columbian civilizations. The participants include directors of regional field projects that have reconstructed episodes of the rise and expansions of complex societies… [T]he rich material offered in this book … maintains the balance between broader theoretical perspectives and concrete data of the cultures involved.”
—Lourens Minnema, Bijdragen, Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie En Theologie 56 (1995)

“This important book departs from American archaeology by focusing upon ‘ideology’ in cultural evolution and change… This book is essential reading for all scholars looking for a different perspective on the origins of civilization.”
—Patricia O’Brien, Journal of the West (July 1995)


  1. Archaeology, Ideology, and Pre-Columbian Cultural Evolution: The Search for an Approach
    Arthur A. Demerest
  2. Ideology and Evolution at the Pre-State Level: Formative Period Mesoamerica
    David C. Grove and Susan D. Gillespie
  3. Modeling the Role of Ideology in Societal Adaptation: Examples from the South American Data
    David J. Wilson
  4. Economy, Ideology, and Imperialism in the South-Central Andes
    Alan L. Kolata
  5. Toward a Political History of Teotihuacan
    George L. Cowgill
  6. The Trees of Life: Ahua as Idea and Artifact in Classic Lowland Maya Civilization
    David A. Freidel
  7. Ideology in Ancient Maya Cultural Evolution: The Dynamics of Galactic Polities
    Arthur A. Demerest
  8. Inca Imperialism: The Great Simplification and the Accident of an Empire
    Geoffrey W. Conrad
  9. Point Counterpoint: Ecology and Ideology in the Development of New World Civilizations
    Robert L. Carneiro
  10. Ideologies: Unity and Diversity
    Robert McC. Adams 
There are no working papers for this book at the present time.