The Classic Stage is a theoretical archaeological term applied to North and Meso-American societies that existed between CE 500 and 1200. This stage is the fourth of five stages posited by Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips' 1958 book Method and Theory in American Archaeology.
Cultures of the Classic Stage are supposed to possess craft specialization and the beginnings of metallurgy. Social organization is supposed to involve the beginnings of urbanism and large ceremonial centers. Ideologically, Classic cultures should have a developed theocracy.
The "Classic Stage" was initially defined as restricted to the complex societies of Mesoamerica and Peru. However, the time period includes other advanced cultures, such as Hopewell, Teotihuacan, and the early Maya.