Power, Prestige, and Wealth
All societies have some type of political organization, as a means of resolving issues concerning the survival or well-being of the society. One of the most prominent cultural changes that is visible in the archaeological record is the rise of new types of political organization, as part of the process of cultural evolution. In this unit, we examine in more detail the model of political evolution introduced in Unit 5. As well, we will discuss the evolution of political systems through time, and the archaeological evidence at Copán that indicates the nature of political institutions there.
After completing this unit, you should be able to
- describe the relationship among government, politics, and power.
- differentiate between system-serving and self-serving behaviour.
- list the four basic functions of government.
- explain how a leader such as a “Big-Man” can exist in an egalitarian society like those in New Guinea.
- describe the functions of chiefs.
- explain the relationship between stratification and the state.
- differentiate between states and chiefdoms.
- describe the seven elements in Fried’s model of political evolution.
- describe some of the difficulties in determining the archaeological correlates of egalitarian societies, chiefdoms, and states.
- identify and describe the features of Aztec society that conform to the model of stratified society.
- describe the political traits of the Copán Maya.
After completing the viewing assignment for this unit, you should be able to
- describe the evidence about Copán society before the rise of Maya kings.
- describe the political position of a Big-Man.
- describe and discuss the evidence for early chiefdoms at Copán.
- explain how architecture reflects differences in status and wealth at Copán.
- discuss how human burials reflect the nature of society at Copán.