While Europe was buried in the Dark Ages, the Maya were producing astonishing sculpture, stelae, and wall murals, as well as building magnificent temples, tombs, and ball courts. This extraordinary volume pairs the leading Maya scholar and one of the world’s finest photographers of ancient sites to trace the rise and fall of Mayan civilization through its great royal cities. From El Mirador to the cities of the Maya Renaissance and finally to Chichen Itza, where the 700-year flowering of the Mayan people came to a halt, the riveting history of powerful dynasties, political intrigues, and a flourishing culture is illuminated through new research and evocative photographs. A new reading of artifacts, reliefs, murals, maps, and other archaeological evidence allows Coe to untangle the complex sequence of internecine ritual warfare that fatally weakened the late Maya era.
Author: Lynn V. Foster
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date: 2005
This comprehensive and accessible reference explores the greatest and most mysterious of civilizations, hailed for its contributions to science, mathematics, and technology. Each chapter is supplemented by an extensive bibliography as well as photos, original line drawings, and maps.
Author: Asa Simon Mittman
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Company
Release Date: 2013
The field of monster studies has grown significantly over the past few years and this companion provides a comprehensive guide to the study of monsters and the monstrous from historical, regional and thematic perspectives. The collection reflects the truly multi-disciplinary nature of monster studies, bringing in scholars from literature, art history, religious studies, history, classics, and cultural and media studies. The companion will offer scholars and graduate students the first comprehensive and authoritative review of this emergent field.
Author: Matthew G. Looper
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Release Date: 2010-01-01
Genre: Social Science
The Maya of Mexico and Central America have performed ritual dances for more than two millennia. Dance is still an essential component of religious experience today, serving as a medium for communication with the supernatural. During the Late Classic period (AD 600-900), dance assumed additional importance in Maya royal courts through an association with feasting and gift exchange. These performances allowed rulers to forge political alliances and demonstrate their control of trade in luxury goods. The aesthetic values embodied in these performances were closely tied to Maya social structure, expressing notions of gender, rank, and status. Dance was thus not simply entertainment, but was fundamental to ancient Maya notions of social, religious, and political identity. Using an innovative interdisciplinary approach, Matthew Looper examines several types of data relevant to ancient Maya dance, including hieroglyphic texts, pictorial images in diverse media, and architecture. A series of case studies illustrates the application of various analytical methodologies and offers interpretations of the form, meaning, and social significance of dance performance. Although the nuances of movement in Maya dances are impossible to recover, Looper demonstrates that a wealth of other data survives which allows a detailed consideration of many aspects of performance. To Be Like Gods thus provides the first comprehensive interpretation of the role of dance in ancient Maya society and also serves as a model for comparative research in the archaeology of performance.
Author: Gerardo Aldana y V.
Publisher: Oxbow Books
Release Date: 2014-05-30
Genre: Social Science
Archaeoastronomy and the Maya illustrates archaeoastronomical approaches to ancient Mayan cultural production. The book is contextualized through a history of archaeoastronomical investigations into Mayan sites, originating in the 19th century discovery of astronomical tables within hieroglyphic books. Early 20th century archaeological excavations revealed inscriptions carved into stone that also preserved astronomical records, along with architecture that was built to reflect astronomical orientations. These materials provided the basis of a growing professionalized archaeoastronomy, blossoming in the 1970s and expanding into recent years. The chapters here exemplify the advances made in the field during the early 21st century as well as the on-going diversity of approaches, presenting new perspectives and discoveries in ancient Mayan astronomy that result from recent studies of architectural alignments, codices, epigraphy, iconography, ethnography, and calendrics. More than just investigations of esoteric ancient sciences, studies of ancient Mayan astronomy have profoundly aided our understanding of Mayan worldviews. Concepts of time and space, meanings encoded in religious art, intentions underlying architectural alignments, and even methods of political legitimization are all illuminated through the study of Mayan astronomy.
Author: Ronald Wright
Publisher: Grove Press
Release Date: 2000
The Maya created one of the world's most brilliant civilizations, famous for its art, astronomy, and deep fascination with the mystery of time. Despite collapse in the ninth century, Spanish invasion in the sixteenth, and civil war in the twentieth, eight million people in Guatemala, Belize, and southern Mexico speak Mayan languages and maintain their resilient culture to this day. Traveling through Central America's jungles and mountains, Ronald Wright explores the ancient roots of the Maya, their recent troubles, and prospects for survival. Embracing history, anthropology, politics, and literature, Time Among the Maya is a riveting journey through past magnificence and the study of an enduring civilization with much to teach the present. "Wright's unpretentious narrative blends anthropology, archaeology, history, and politics with his own entertaining excursions and encounters." -- The New Yorker; "Time Among the Maya shows Wright to be far more than a mere storyteller or descriptive writer. He is an historical philosopher with a profound understanding of other cultures." -- Jan Morris, The Independent (London).
Author: James Doyle
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 2017-03-24
Genre: Social Science
Architecture and the Origins of Preclassic Maya Politics highlights the dramatic changes in the relationship of ancient Maya peoples to the landscape and to each other in the Preclassical period (ca. 2000 BC–250 AD). Offering a comprehensive history of Preclassic Maya society, James Doyle focuses on recent discoveries of early writing, mural painting, stone monuments, and evidence of divine kingship that have reshaped our understanding of cultural developments in the first millennium BC. He also addresses one of the crucial concerns of contemporary archaeology: the emergence of political authorities and their subjects in early complex polities. Doyle shows how architectural trends in the Maya Lowlands in the Preclassic period exhibit the widespread cross-cultural link between monumental architecture of imposing intent, human collaboration, and urbanism.
Author: Jeff Karl Kowalski
Release Date: 1999
In this collection, prominent scholars provide new interpretations and useful syntheses of many of the most significant Mesoamerican architectural traditions from the Preclassic to the Postclassic periods. The essays examine the built environment as a carrier of cultural meanings. The many pyramid-temples, palaces, and ballcourts comprising Mesoamerican centers were constructed in the context of hierarchical societies, and provided monumental expressions of elite authority. The design of individual buildings, as well as the layout of site plans, often embodied Mesoamerican beliefs about the structure of the cosmos, natural forces, or the numinous power of landscape forms, thus providing sanction for the sociopolitical order.
Author: Sarah E. Jackson
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Release Date: 2013-06-24
In recent decades, advances in deciphering Maya hieroglyphic writing have given scholars new tools for understanding key aspects of ancient Maya society. This book—the first comprehensive examination of the Maya royal court—exemplifies the importance of these new sources. Authored by anthropologist Sarah E. Jackson and richly illustrated with drawings, photographs, and maps, Politics of the Maya Court uses hieroglyphic and iconographic evidence to explore the composition and social significance of royal courts in the Late Classic period (a.d. 600–900), with a special emphasis on the role of courtly elites. As Jackson explains, the Maya region of southern Mexico and Central America was not a unified empire but a loosely aggregated culture area composed of independent kingdoms. Royal courts had a presence in large, central communities from Chiapas to Yucatan and the highlands of Guatemala and western Honduras. Each major polity was ruled by a k’uhul ajaw, or holy lord, who embodied intertwined aspects of religious and political authority. The hieroglyphic texts that adorned walls, furniture, and portable items in these centers of power provide specific information about the positions, roles, and meanings of the courts. Jackson uses these documents as keys to understanding Classic Maya political hierarchy and, specifically, the institution of the royal court. Within this context, she investigates the lives of the nobility and the participation of elites in court politics. By identifying particular individuals and their life stories, Jackson humanizes Maya society, showing how events resulted from the actions and choices of specific people. Jackson’s innovative portrayal of court membership provides a foundation for scholarship on the nature, functions, and responsibilities of Maya royal courts.