The Early Classic Genesis of the Royal Maya Capital of Tamarindito
Polities require individuals who envision and materialize them; in turn, people's political identity as residents depends on them. The polity and the resident are self-evident only in hindsight, and we discuss their co-constitution. During subjectification, people create and submit to an authority. Our case study is the Early Classic (AD 350–600) emergence of Tamarindito in the south-central Maya Lowlands (modern Guatemala). The Petexbatun Regional Archaeological Project and the Tamarindito Archaeological Project have extensively studied this capital of the Foliated Scroll polity. Although its divine rulers present themselves as fully formed since time immemorial, we discuss how they built their authority through self-serving narratives. Tamarindito originates in the Early Classic, and in the late fourth or fifth century, rulers selected a 70 m high hill as seat. Plaza A's monumentality conceals a small-scale labor effort and a slowly growing polity. Only two non-elite households attached themselves to the royal court during the fifth and sixth centuries, suggesting that non-elites recognized the royal authority only slowly. The formation of the Foliated Scroll polity was an immanent process. Self-aggrandizing divine kings struggled to claim authority, and non-elites subjectified themselves over several centuries.