This chapter introduces the central issue of the book: How can we understand the political organization of the ancient Maya of the Classic period (A.D.250-950)? Rather than conceiving of Maya politics as centralized or decentralized, this book proposes that we need to understand its variability across space and time during the apogee of Maya civilization. To contextualize this study, this chapter also provides a summary of the historical trajectory of Maya culture from its roots around 1,000 B.C. until the Spanish Conquest of the sixteenth century.
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