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As central topics of anthropological study from the 1940s through the 1970s, kinship and lineage became largely discredited during the 1980s. Recent scholarship, however, has indicated that kinship and lineage, when considered as the products of social activity, can make important contributions to studies of living and past populations. This paper explores the lineage as a model of social organization distinguished by specific activities practiced by members of Late Classic Maya social groups. This model is derived from cross-cultural literature on lineages, but practices associated with lineage organization are historically and culturally specific. A suite of archaeological correlates, based on practices endemic to the Late Classic Maya, is evaluated against a test case from northwestern Belize. The implications of a landscape populated by lineages during the Classic period argue that archaeological investigations of hinterland areas are an important complement to more traditional studies focused on nucleated site centers.


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Ancient Mesoamerica