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War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica$
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Ross Hassig

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520077348

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520077348.001.0001

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Warfare and the Spread of States

Warfare and the Spread of States

(p.30) Chapter 3 Warfare and the Spread of States
War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica

Ross Hassig

University of California Press

This chapter explores the expansion of societies in Mesoamerica through war. The Olmec aftermath was a period of increasing military professionalism among local elites, and specialized arms now dominated warfare. One response to the emergence of a professional military and the increasing levels of violence was the development of fortifications. The presence of fortifications does not necessarily indicate rampant warfare, and neither does their absence indicate peace. Maya lowlands had early fortifications. Monte Alban's fortifications and strong defensive position allowed it to treat them as subordinates within its directly controlled, expanded hinterland. Professional weapons (and presumably tactics) had now spread to most advanced societies in Mesoamerica. War became a significant factor in creating larger political units, and the nature of those polities was fashioned by what was militarily feasible for the aggressor societies and the recourse of their potential victims.

Keywords:   war, Mesoamerica, fortifications, Maya lowlands, Monte Alban, professional weapons

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