Since the 1930s, archaeologists have uncovered startling evidence of interaction between the Early Classic Maya and the great empire of Teotihuacan in Central Mexico. Yet the exact nature of the relationship between these two ancient Mesoamerican civilizations remains to be fully deciphered. Many scholars have assumed that Teotihuacan colonized the Maya region and dominated the political or economic systems of certain key centers—perhaps even giving rise to state-level political organizations. Others argue that Early Classic rulers merely traded with Teotihuacan and skillfully manipulated its imported exotic goods and symbol sets to increase their prestige.
Moving beyond these traditional assumptions, the contributors to this volume present extensive new evidence from archaeology, iconography, and epigraphy to offer a more nuanced understanding of the interaction between the Early Classic Maya and Teotihuacan. Investigating a range of Maya sites, including Kaminaljuyu, Copán, Tikal, Altun Ha, and Oxkintok, they demonstrate that the influence of Teotihuacan on the Maya varied in nature and duration from site to site, requiring a range of models to explain the patterns of interaction. Moreover, they show that the interaction was bidirectional and discuss how the Maya in turn influenced Teotihuacan.