The role of population growth
in cultural evolution is a central issue for understanding complex societies.
Some theories state that population growth is a natural characteristic
of human populations, and given time, a society's population will grow
to the maximum level allowed by the available resources. Population pressure
may then cause the society to develop social inequality through development
a managerial class. Other theories state that population growth is
the result of taxation levied by elites on commoner households. In this
case commoner households increase their size to meet increased production
requirements. Neither of these theoretical schemes have provided a satisfactory
explanation of the relationship between cultural evolution and populatio
This dissertation tests an agrarian demographic
model that explains rapid population growth among the Late Classic Maya.
The model is built on historic and ethnographic data and addresses the
effects of economic stability and change on agrarian households.
Settlement and lithic data collected from La Milpa, Belize are used to
test the model. The study concludes that Late Classic Maya
population growth was not caused by household converting from agricultural
production to specialized production.