This volume offers new calendrical models and methodologies for reading, dating, and interpreting the general significance of the Madrid Codex. The longest of the surviving Maya codices, the Madrid Codex includes texts and images painted by scribes conversant in Maya hieroglyphic writing, a written means of communication practiced by Maya elites from the second to the fifteenth centuries A.D. Some scholars have recently argued that the Madrid Codex originated in the Petén region of Guatemala and post-dates European contact. The contributors to this volume challenge that view by demonstrating convincingly that it originated in northern Yucatán and was painted in the Pre-Columbian era. In addition, several contributors reveal provocative connections among the Madrid and Borgia group of codices from Central Mexico.
Astronomers, Scribes, and Priests examines evidence for cultural interchange among the intellectual powerbrokers in Postclassic Mesoamerica, specifically those centered in the northern Maya lowlands and the central Mexican highlands. Contributors to the volume’s thirteen chapters bring an interdisciplinary perspective to understanding the interactions that led to shared content in hieroglyphic codices and mural art. The authors address similarities in artifacts, architectural styles, and building alignments—often produced in regions separated by hundreds of miles—based on their analyses of iconographic, archaeological, linguistic, and epigraphic material. The volume includes a wealth of new data and interpretive frameworks in this comprehensive discussion of a critical time period in the Mesoamerican past.
This book examines Maya sacrifice and related posthumous body manipulation. The editors bring together an international group of contributors from the area studied: archaeologists as well as anthropologists, forensic anthropologists, art historians and bioarchaeologists. This interdisciplinary approach provides a comprehensive perspective on these sites as well as the material culture and biological evidence found there
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.
Identities of power and place, as expressed in paintings from the periods before and after the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica, are the subject of this book of case studies from Central Mexico, Oaxaca, and the Maya area. These sophisticated, skillfully rendered images occur with architecture, in manuscripts, on large pieces of cloth, and on ceramics.
In the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican world, histories and collections of ritual knowledge were often presented in the form of painted and folded books now known as codices, and the knowledge itself was encoded into pictographs. Eight codices have survived from the Mixtec peoples of ancient Oaxaca, Mexico; a part of one of them, the Codex Zouche-Nuttall, is the subject of this book. As a group, the Mixtec codices contain the longest detailed histories and royal genealogies known for any indigenous people in the western hemisphere. The Codex Zouche-Nuttall offers a unique window into how the Mixtecs themselves viewed their social and political cosmos without the bias of western European interpretation. At the same time, however, the complex calendrical information recorded in the Zouche-Nuttall has made it resistant to historical, chronological analysis, thereby rendering its narrative obscure. In this pathfinding work, Robert Lloyd Williams presents a methodology for reading the Codex Zouche-Nuttall that unlocks its essentially linear historical chronology. Recognizing that the codex is a combination of history in the European sense and the timelessness of myth in the Native American sense, he brings to vivid life the history of Lord Eight Wind of Suchixtlan (AD 935–1027), a ruler with the attributes of both man and deity, as well as other heroic Oaxacan figures. Williams also provides context for the history of Lord Eight Wind through essays dealing with Mixtec ceremonial rites and social structure, drawn from information in five surviving Mixtec codices.
The only value-priced, full-color edition of the pre-Columbian Mexican (Mixtec) book. Features 88 color plates of kings, gods, heroes, temples, sacrifices, and more. New introduction.
The volume, an homage to Mary Elizabeth Smith, contains twenty-five essays that focus on the art and intellectual culture of ancient Mesoamerica as that culture is revealed primarily in painted books or "codices" of the native tradition. The authors explore aspects of indigenous knowledge, such as religion and ritual, calendrical systems, rulership, and spatial and historical reckoning. Cultures treated include the Toltecs, as well as the Aztecs, Miktecs, Zapotecs, and Maya in the precolumbian and colonial periods.
Were most commoners in ancient Mesoamerica poor? In a material sense, yes, probably so. Were they poor in their beliefs and culture? Certainly not, as Commoner Ritual and Ideology in Ancient Mesoamerica demonstrates. This volume explores the ritual life of Mesoamerica's common citizens, inside and outside of the domestic sphere, from Formative through Postclassic periods. Building from the premise that ritual and ideological expression inhered at all levels of society in Mesoamerica, the contributors demonstrate that ideology did not emanate solely from exalted individuals and that commoner ritual expression was not limited to household contexts. Taking an empirical approach to this under-studied and under-theorized area, contributors use material evidence to discover how commoner status conditioned the expression of ideas and values. Revealing complex social hierarchies that varied across time and region, this volume offers theoretical approaches to commoner ideology, religious practice, and sociopolitical organization and builds a framework for future study of the correlation of ritual and ideological expression with social position for Mesoamericanists and archaeologists worldwide.
The first book to focus on children in ancient Mesoamerica, this vital reference for Mesoamericanists offers a methodological guide for archaeologists studying children and their roles in ancient societies worldwide.
The Rabinal Achi, one of the most remarkable works of Mayan literature, dates back to the 1400s. The drama is set in the Guatemalan highlands in the second half of the fifteenth century. In an exemplary trial that takes place in Kajyub, the capital of the Rabinaleb at that time, a captured enemy warrior (Quiché Achi) appears before the royal court. A series of combative dialogues pits the offending warrior against the local warrior (Rabinal Achi) and the king (Job Toj), reconstructing the deeds of those involved and retracing the antagonistic history of these two Mayan groups, the Quiché and the Rabinaleb. Alain Breton approaches the text from an anthropological and ethnographical perspective, demonstrating that this indigenous text reenacts pre-Columbian historic paradigms. Breton translated into French an entirely new transcription of the original text, and Teresa Lavender Fagan and Robert Schneider translated the text into English. Both the transcription and the translation are accompanied by detailed commentary and a glossary.
"Exploring the intersection of spirituality and materiality, Mesoamerican Ritual Economy will be of interest to all scholars studying how worldview and belief motivate economic behavior."--BOOK JACKET.
From the Preclassic to the present, Maya peoples have continuously built, altered, abandoned, and re-used structures, imbuing them with new meanings at each transformation. RUINS OF THE PAST is the first volume to focus on how later Maya peoples perceived, used, and sometimes ritually destroyed ruins of structures built by ancestors.
After Monte Albn reveals the richness and interregional relevance of Postclassic transformations in the area now known as Oaxaca. Large nucleated states throughout Oaxaca collapsed after C.E. 700, including the great Zapotec state centered in the Valley of Oaxaca, Monte Albn. Dramatic sociopolitical reconfigurations ensued. Oaxaca lies between central Mexico and the Maya area; contributors to After Monte Albn demonstrate Oaxacas cultural centrality in pan-Mesoamerican networks. Contributors synthesize regional transformations and continuities in the lower Rio Verde valley, the Valley of Oaxaca, and the Mixteca Alta. They provide data from material culture, architecture, codices, ethnohistoric documents, and ceramics, including a revised ceramic chronology from the Late Classic to the end of the Postclassic that will be crucial to future investigations. After Monte Albn establishes Postclassic Oaxacas central place in the study of Mesoamerican antiquity.
Invasion and Transformation examines the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and transformations in political, social, cultural, and religious life in Mexico during the Conquest and the ensuing colonial period. In particular, contributors consider the ways in which the Conquest itself was remembered, both in its immediate aftermath and in later centuries. Was Moteuczoma really as weak as history portrayed him? As Susan D. Gillespie instead suggests in "Blaming Moteuczoma," the representation of Moteuczoma as a scapegoat for the Aztec defeat can be understood as a product of indigenous resistance and accommodation following the imposition of Spanish colonialism. Chapters address the various roles (real and imagined) of Moteuczoma, Cortés, and Malinche in the fall of the Aztecs; the representation of history in colonial art; and the complex cultural transformations that actually took place. Including full-color reproductions of seventeenth-century paintings of the Conquest, Invasion and Transformation will appeal to scholars and students of Latin American history and anthropology, art history, colonial literature, and transatlantic studies. Contributors include Rebecca P. Brienen, Louise M. Burkhart, Ximena Chávez Balderas, Constance Cortez, Viviana Diáz Balsera, Martha Few, Susan D. Gillespie, Margaret A. Jackson, Diana Magaloni Kerpel, Matthew Restall, Michael Schreffler.
Takes up anew the riddles within a number of Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions first recognised by Floyd Lounsbury. Gerardo Aldana unpacks these mathematical riddles using an approach grounded in a reading of the texts made possible by recent advances in decipherment. Using a history of science methodology, he expands upon (and sometimes questions) the foundational work of archaeoastronomers. Aldana follows three lines of investigation: a reading of the hieroglyphic inscriptions of the Classic period (ad250-900), mathematical analysis to recover Classic Maya astronomical practice, and a historiography of Maya astronomy. During troubled times in Palenque, Aldana contends, Kan Balam II devised a means to preserve the legitimacy of his ruling dynasty. He celebrated a re-creation of the city as a contemporary analogue of a mythical Creation on three levels: monumental construction for a public audience, artistic patronage for an elite audience, and a secret mathematical astronomical language only for rulers-elect. Discussing all of these efforts, Aldana focuses on the recovery of the secret language and its historical context.
Jacques Galinier surveys both traditional Otomí cosmology and colonial and contemporary Catholic rituals to illustrate the complexity of continuity and change in Mesoamerican religious ideology and practice. Galinier explores the problems of historical and family memory, models of space and time, the role of the human habitation in cosmology, shamanism and healing, and much more. He elucidates the way these realities are represented in a series of arresting oppositions -- both Otomí oppositions and the duality of indigenous and Catholic ritual life -- between the upper and lower human body. As Galinier details, in Otomí cosmology, psychological forces are stored at the very bottom of the body -- 'the World Below' -- in what translates roughly as an 'Old Bag'. This spiritual sack is saturated with 'rottenness and sex' and invades the collective unconscious of the Otomí cosmos. Drawing upon both Freud and theories of the carnivalesque, Galinier argues that this world below provides the foundation for an indigenous metapsychology that is at once very close and very far away from the Freudian conceptual apparatus.
In "Encounter with the Plumed Serpent, " two leading scholars present and interpret the sacred histories narrated in the Mixtec codices, the largest surviving collection of pre-Columbian manuscripts in existence. In these screenfold books, ancient painter-historians chronicled the politics of the Mixtec from approximately a.d. 900 to 1521, portraying the royal families, rituals, wars, alliances, and ideology of the times.
This heavily illustrated compilation of current scholarship on cave archaeology in the Maya lowlands is the first dedicated to the subject and yields key insights into Maya ritual and cosmology. An important publication that fills a crucial niche in Maya scholarship and addresses issues important to archaeology, cave studies, religion, anthropology, global archaeology, and more.
Now available in English, Thunder Doesn't Live Here Anymore explores the highly unusual worldview of the Teenek people of Tantoyuca, Veracruz, whose self-deprecating cosmology diverges quite radically from patterns of positive cultural identity among other indigenous groups in Mexico. The Teeneks speak of themselves as dirty, dumb, ignorant, and fearful, a vocabulary that serves to justify the Teeneks' condition of social and spatial marginality in relation to their mestizo neighbors. However, as Anath Ariel de Vidas argues in this ethnography, this self-denigration - added to the absence among the Teeneks of emblematic Indian features such as traditional costumes, agricultural rituals, specific ceremonies, or systems of religious cargos or offices - are not synonymous with collective anomie. Rather, as Ariel de Vidas demonstrates, their seeming ontological acceptance of a marginal social and economic condition is - in its own peculiar way - a language of indigenous resistance.

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