This article discusses the Ptolemaic legacy and Egyptian independence; the annexation of Egypt; and the first Roman prefects in Egypt. In contrast to earlier changes of ruler, the annexation of Egypt by Octavian represents a particularly lasting break in the country's history. Octavian was quickly able to stabilize Roman authority in the newly created province. As in the other provinces of the empire, a new, well-designed, and effective administration was speedily introduced. It was headed by the prefect, the direct representative of the emperor. To secure his rule, Octavian-Augustus also sought engagement with the priests, the elite of the country. This is evident in the numerous temples that were built, particularly in areas of strategic and economic importance.
Greg Borgstede and Eugenia Robinson
This article reviews archaeological evidence of the Late Postclassic period in the Maya highlands. The Maya highlands contain a diverse and complex geography, a diversity that is represented in the material record. While archaeological and ethnohistoric evidence from the central Guatemalan highlands has long dominated discussion of the Late Postclassic period, research has shown that developments outside of this subregion were extremely variable and localized. A focus on the Quiché and Kaqchikel states has resulted in an important and rich body of evidence that has undeniable importance to Maya and Mesoamerica studies, as well as modern Maya peoples.
Michael A. Ohnersorgen and Marcie L. Venter
Interactions at the Aztec imperial edges varied considerably, with some marked by a general congruence of political, economic, and symbolic domains, suggesting that border-like conditions shaped interactions, while other boundary areas were more permeable frontiers where cultural domains overlapped and were interconnected, but differently bounded. Most previous characterizations of Aztec boundary interactions come from documents of the sixteenth-century Basin of Mexico or late sixteenth-century Relaciones Geográficas . Data from recent archaeological projects complement the rich ethnohistorical record, and several of these studies explicitly frame Aztec provincial relationships as a dynamic process of negotiation. This article presents summaries of this information for the western, southern, and eastern margins of the Aztec Empire.
Michael E. Smith and Maëlle Sergheraert
The Aztec Empire was created within a setting of competing city-states ( altepetl ) that covered the landscape of central Mexico starting around 1100
This article discusses the collapse of the Classic Mayan civilization of southern and eastern Mesoamerica. Archaeologists now commonly recognize that there are several dimensions to this general collapse: the disappearance of royal dynasties and their ideological underpinnings; the dissolution of larger sociopolitical patterns, most importantly the disappearance of nonroyal elites; and a demographic collapse that greatly reduced populations or eliminated them altogether. All these things were once commonly assumed to be closely linked, but it is increasingly evident that each one must be treated independently.
George L. Cowgill
This article focuses on the concepts of collapse and regeneration employed by Mesoamericanists. Much mischief is caused by ambiguities about what it is that is supposed to be collapsing or regenerating. Most often, what is at issue is either the fragmentation of a large polity or the termination of a major cultural tradition. Mesoamericanists have not always clearly distinguished the fragmentation of polities from the termination of major cultural traditions. In discussing collapses and regenerations in Mesoamerica, it seems best to focus on political alternations, although migrations, demographic changes, and alterations of ethnic identities must be also considered. Scholars can, and will discuss the fates of cultural traditions, but they should make themselves clear on the distinction between that and the histories of polities.
Michel R. Oudijk
This article focuses on the sources describing the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Historians all have continuously asked the same question: How was it possible for five hundred Spaniards to conquer a Mexican empire? In trying to resolve the question, historians have applied all kinds of methodological instruments but particularly they have critically analyzed the sources. All have recognized the obvious subjectivity of the main sources of Hernán Cortés, López de Gómara, and Díaz del Castillo. The response has been either to verify the information given by these authors with that of archival documents and other accounts by Spanish conquerors, or to confront the Spanish sources with indigenous ones. These have been very useful methods that have clarified many of the doubts and mistakes represented in the main sources, but they have always confirmed the main story line of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
Christopher S. Beekman
Far western Mexico has occupied an ambiguous position within Mesoamerican research, as the region both displays continuity with Mesoamerican culture and provides informative differences. This article demonstrates that the area has been an integral part of the societal networks that criss-cross Mesoamerica through four major transitions over the Pre-Columbian period. It discusses the origins of agricultural and maritime adaptations (7000–2000
This article reviews the archaeological evidence of Classic and Postclassic Gulf Coast cultures, focusing on developments during the first and early second millennium
This article discusses government, taxation, and law in Roman Egypt. The most striking feature of the Egyptian provincial government remains its overall structure, in particular the geographically defined division into many smaller, relatively independent, but nevertheless tightly run administrative units, and above all the strict hierarchy of offices with a proper chain of appeal and the prefect at the top. In the area of taxation, there was a plethora of varieties in Egypt itself. This is why it is by no means easy to determine which structural features (if any) may also be observed in other regions of the Roman empire. In the field of jurisdiction, the Romans apparently refrained from intervening too rigidly in the law and customs of the population.