This article presents an autobiographical perspective on the changing nature of Maya archaeology, focusing on the role of settlement pattern studies in illuminating the lives of commoners as well as on the traditional emphasis on the ruling elite. Advances in understanding the nature of nonelite peoples in ancient Maya society are discussed, as are the many current gaps in scholarly understandings of pre-Columbian Maya civilization, especially with regard to the diversity of ancient “commoners” and the difficulty in analyzing them as a single group.


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