Maya Palaces and Elite Residences: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Maya Palaces and Elite Residences: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Maya Palaces and Elite Residences: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Maya Palaces and Elite Residences: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Excerpt

This volume brings together scholars in archaeology, anthropology, art history, and epigraphy. They will investigate residential architecture at a number of different Maya sites, but they all will analyze architectural form and associated artifacts, as well as iconographic and epigraphic information, with the goal of reconstructing use and function of specific rooms and houses and what such reconstructions might reveal about ancient Maya social organization. The authors will look at two categories of residential architecture: palaces and residences. Both of these categories are similar in form and layout—they consist of gallery-like structures, on low platforms, that surround courtyards. They differ in that palaces are usually larger in size, are built of stone masonry and with corbeled vaults, have more sculptural decoration, and are located closer to the ceremonial core of a city. Most scholars assume that ruling families both lived in palaces and conducted government business from them but that elite residences were used exclusively as dwellings. Individual authors will define these architectural categories further and bring them to life as they discuss how palaces and elite residences were built and used in different Maya cities.

This introduction will begin with a brief outline of Maya history followed by a chronological overview of approaches taken and directions of research in Maya studies. The history of research will demonstrate the need for the interdisciplinary perspective pursued in this volume. Finally, the authors of the individual chapters and their topics will be introduced.

Interest in Maya palaces was raised when early European explorers discovered their ruins in the nineteenth century.

Continuing on this terrace, we stopped at the foot of a second, when our
Indians cried out [el Palacio,] [the palace,] and through openings in the
trees we saw the front of a large building richly ornamented with stuc-

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