The Pre-Columbian Maya were organized into a series of independent kingdoms or polities rather than unified into a single state. The vast majority of studies of Maya states focus on the apogee of their development in the classic period, ca. 250-850 C.E. As a result, Maya states are defined according to the specific political structures that characterized classic period lowland Maya society. The Origins of Maya States is the first study in over 30 years to examine the origins and development of these states specifically during the preceding preclassic period, ca. 1000 B.C.E. to 250 C.E. Attempts to understand the origins of Maya states cannot escape the limitations of archaeological data, and this is complicated by both the variability of Maya states in time and space and the interplay between internal development and external impacts. To mitigate these factors, editors Loa P. Traxler and Robert J. Sharer assemble a collection of essays that combines an examination of topical issues with regional perspectives from both the Maya area and neighboring Mesoamerican regions to highlight the role of interregional interaction in the evolution of Maya states. Topics covered include material signatures for the development of Maya states, evaluations of extant models for the emergence of Maya states, and advancement of new models based on recent archaeological data. Contributors address the development of complexity during the preclassic era within the Maya regions of the Pacific coast, highlands, and lowlands and explore preclassic economic, social, political, and ideological systems that provide a developmental context for the origins of Maya states. Contributors: Marcello A. Canuto, John E. Clark, Ann Cyphers, Francisco Estrada-Belli, David C. Grove, Norman Hammond, Richard D. Hansen, Eleanor King, Michael Love, Simon Martin, Astrid Runggaldier, Robert Sharer, Loa Traxler.
This wide-ranging introduction to the anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean offers broad coverage of culture and society in the region, taking into account historical developments as well as the roles of power and inequality. The chapters address key topics such as colonialism, globalization, violence, religion, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, health, and food, and emphasize the impact of Latin American and Caribbean peoples and cultures in the United States. The text has been thoroughly updated for the second edition, including fresh case studies and new chapters on independence, neoliberalism and immigration, and popular culture and the digital revolution. Students are provided with a solid overview of the major contemporary trends, issues, and debates in the field. Each chapter ends with a summary, up-to-date recommendations for viewing films/videos and websites, and a comprehensive bibliography for further reading and research.
Papers from the 1987 Maya Weekend conference at the University of Pennsylvania Museum present current views of Maya culture and language. Also included is an article by George Stuart summarizing the history of the study of Maya hieroglyphs and the fascinating scholars and laypersons who have helped bring about their decipherment. Symposium Series III University Museum Monograph, 77
Gender was a fluid potential, not a fixed category, before the Spaniards came to Mesoamerica. Childhood training and ritual shaped, but did not set, adult gender, which could encompass third genders and alternative sexualities as well as "male" and "female." At the height of the Classic period, Maya rulers presented themselves as embodying the entire range of gender possibilities, from male through female, by wearing blended costumes and playing male and female roles in state ceremonies. This landmark book offers the first comprehensive description and analysis of gender and power relations in prehispanic Mesoamerica from the Formative Period Olmec world (ca. 1500-500 BC) through the Postclassic Maya and Aztec societies of the sixteenth century AD. Using approaches from contemporary gender theory, Rosemary Joyce explores how Mesoamericans created human images to represent idealized notions of what it meant to be male and female and to depict proper gender roles. She then juxtaposes these images with archaeological evidence from burials, house sites, and body ornaments, which reveals that real gender roles were more fluid and variable than the stereotyped images suggest.
Published to accompany a traveling exhibition organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, this book breaks new ground by documenting the development and exploring the manifestations of royal authority among the ancient Maya as well as their descendants, as revealed by the religious beliefs and ceremonies of the Maya today. Drawing on the most current archaeological, epigraphic, and art historical research of an impressive roster of Maya scholars, Lords of Creation addresses specific aspects of the central historical issues and seminal artworks that exemplify the primary characteristic of Maya divine kingship, the capacity of rulers to intercede between gods and men.
Most treatments of large Classic Maya sites such as Caracol and Tikal regard Maya political organization as highly centralized. Because investigations have focused on civic buildings and elite palaces, however, a critical part of the picture of Classic Maya political organization has been missing. The contributors to this volume chart the rise and fall of the Classic Maya center of Xunantunich, paying special attention to its changing relationships with the communities that comprised its hinterlands. They examine how the changing relationships between Xunantunich and the larger kingdom of Naranjo affected the local population, the location of their farms and houses, and the range of economic and subsistence activities in which both elites and commoners engaged. They also examine the ways common people seized opportunities and met challenges offered by a changing political landscape. The rich archaeological data in this book show that incorporating subject communities and peopleÑand keeping them incorporatedÑwas an on-going challenge to ancient Maya rulers. Until now, archaeologists have lacked integrated regional data and a fine-grained chronology in which to document short-term shifts in site occupations, subsistence strategies, and other important practices of the daily life of the Maya. This book provides a revised picture of Maya politicsÑone of different ways of governing and alliance formation among dominant centers, provincial polities, and hinterland communities.
Now shrouded in Guatemalan jungle, the ancient Maya city of Piedras Negras flourished between the sixth and ninth centuries, when its rulers erected monumental limestone sculptures carved with hieroglyphic texts and images of themselves and family members, advisers, and captives. In Engaging Ancient Maya Sculpture at Piedras Negras, Guatemala, Megan E. O’Neil offers new ways to understand these stelae, altars, and panels by exploring how ancient Maya people interacted with them. These monuments, considered sacred, were one of the community’s important forms of cultural and religious expression. Stelae may have held the essence of rulers they commemorated, and the objects remained loci for reverence of those rulers after they died. Using a variety of evidence,O’Neil examines how the forms, compositions, and contexts of the sculptures invited people to engage with them and the figures they embodied looks at these monuments not as inert bearers of images but as palpable presences that existed in real space at specific historical moments. Her analysis brings to the fore the material and affective force of these powerful objects that were seen, touched, and manipulated in the past. O’Neil investigates the monuments not only at the moment of their creation but also in later years and shows how they changed over time. She argues that the relationships among sculptures of different generations were performed in processions, through which ancient Maya people integrated historical dialogues and ancestral commemoration into the landscape. With the help of more than 160 illustrations, O’Neil reveals these sculptures’ continuing life histories, which in the past century have included their fragmentation and transformation into commodities sold on the international art market. Shedding light on modern-day transposition and display of these ancient monuments, O’Neil’s study contributes to ongoing discussions of cultural patrimony.
A book perfectly timed for the re-setting of the Maya calendar in 2012.... Part history, popular science, armchair travel, and real-life treasure hunt, this is the story of pre-Columbian jade—the precious stone revered by ancient Aztecs, Incans, and Maya—and the scientists, collectors, explorers and entrepreneurs who have been searching for the mythical jade mines for more than a century. “A compelling tale.... This well-focused and well-told account brings America’s most mythologized gemstone into sharp relief.” —Wall Street Journal “[T]he story of the search for the long-vanished mines of the Mayas . . . [with] engaging digressions into plate tectonics, the technology of jade carving and the brutal history of the regimes of a succession of Guatemalan generals. . . . [Prospectors] Ridinger and Johnson endured earthquakes, coups, kidnapping, even civil war. But eventually they stumbled upon huge blocks of the alluring, elusive stone.” —New York Times Book Review Selected as an Indie Next List “Great Read” “The search for the sources of this mysterious rock reads like detective fiction, and involves geologists, archaeologists, entrepreneurs, poachers, and a host of other characters, but it’s all true. A wonderful read!” —Michael D. Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code