Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya: Data and Case Studies - Vol. 2

Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya: Data and Case Studies - Vol. 2

Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya: Data and Case Studies - Vol. 2

Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya: Data and Case Studies - Vol. 2

Synopsis

The two volumes of Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya provide current archaeological perspectives on Maya courts conceived as vital, functioning social groups composed of lords, courtiers, scribes, priests, and entertainers, among many others. In addition to archaeological data on the architecture and other spatial attributes of courts, the studies in the two volumes bring to bear on the topic the most recent evidence from inscriptions, vase paintings, murals and friezes, and ethnohistoric records in order to flesh out a portrait of the actors and roles that made up Maya courts through time and across space. The attributes of courts are explored in the Maya highlands and lowlands, from the origins of early kingship through the Classic period to the Postclassic and Terminal epochs. Pertinent comparisons are also drawn from the Aztecs and other ancient and contemporary societies. Volume 1, published in fall 2000, (Theories, Themes, and Comparisons) establishes a carefully considered framework for approaching the study of courts and their functions throughout the world of the ancient Maya. This volume (Case Studies) provides authoritatively current data and insights from key Maya sites, including Copan, Tikal, Caracol, Bonampak, and Calakmul.

Excerpt

This constitutes the second volume of Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya. Volume 1 (Theory, Comparison, and Synthesis) contains chapters addressing theoretical issues related to royal courts, as well as a comparative study (by Susan Evans) and a set of concluding remarks (by Michael Coe). the objectives of the book and problems pertaining to definitions of the royal court were discussed in the introductory chapter of that volume.

Volume 2 charges directly into a series of meticulous case studies, rich with data. Here the authors discuss courts at specific centers and areas, presenting data from major research projects, including some that are still ongoing. the chapters are organized in rough chronological order. the first chapter by Clark and Hansen targets the early development of courts during the Pre-Classic period, dissecting the nature of foreign influence as illuminated by their data from the Mirador Basin of northern Peten and from Chiapas. Traxler examines the beginning of the Copan dynasty and the possibility of its foreign origin. the court as de novo construction, in both symbolic and material senses, underscores the role of rupture and innovation in the emergence of courts.

The next three chapters address some of the largest Classic centers in the lowlands. Harrison analyzes the functions of throne rooms in the Central Acropolis of Tikal. Another large center, Caracol, is described by Arlen and Diane Chase, who present evidence of "palace diets" as a unique tool for identifying court members. Their study of multiple courts in this densely settled Maya city points to a complex pattern of courtly organization. in the following chapter, Valdés also addresses the functions and meanings of thrones, referring primarily to archaeological data from Uaxactun. Ball and Taschek, who have been working at the minor centers of Buenavista and Cahal Pech, direct themselves to the questions of dual-palace systems and court mobility. Miller then turns to iconography and texts in mural paintings at Bonampak, using images enhanced through new technologies. Finally, Folan, Gunn, and Domínguez scrutinize data from excavations at Calakmul and argue . . .

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