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Stature at Tikal, Guatemala: Implications for Ancient Maya Demography and Social Organization

William A. Haviland
American Antiquity
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Jul., 1967), pp. 316-325
DOI: 10.2307/2694660
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2694660
Page Count: 10
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Stature at Tikal, Guatemala: Implications for Ancient Maya Demography and Social Organization
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Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of stature of the prehistoric population from the Maya site of Tikal, Guatemala. From this analysis, based on 55 skeletons from the Tikal burial series, three important conclusions emerge with respect to ancient Maya demography and social organization. (1) Tikal was settled by people of moderate stature, and this remained relatively stable over several centuries. A marked reduction in male stature in Late Classic times may be indicative of a situation of nutritional stress, which may have had something to do with the collapse of Classic Maya civilization. (2) Stature differences between those buried in tombs and others at Tikal suggest that, in the last century B.C., a distinct ruling class developed at Tikal. This simple class division of rulers and commoners may have become more complex in Late Classic times. (3) There was a marked sexual dimorphism in stature between males and females at Tikal. This is probably partially genetic and partially a reflection of relatively lower status for women as opposed to men in Maya society.

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