This volume illuminates human lifeways in the northern Maya lowlands prior to the rise of Chichén Itzá. This period and area have been poorly understood on their own terms, obscured by scholarly focus on the central lowland Maya kingdoms. Before Kukulkán is anchored in three decades of interdisciplinary research at the Classic Maya capital of Yaxuná, located at a contentious crossroads of the northern Maya lowlands.
Using bioarchaeology, mortuary archaeology, and culturally sensitive mainstream archaeology, the authors create an in-depth regional understanding while also laying out broader ways of learning about the Maya past. Part 1 examines ancient lifeways among the Maya at Yaxuná, while part 2 explores different meanings of dying and cycling at the settlement and beyond: ancestral practices, royal entombment and desecration, and human sacrifice. The authors close with a discussion of the last years of occupation at Yaxuná and the role of Chichén Itzá in the abandonment of this urban center.
Before Kukulkán provides a cohesive synthesis of the evolving roles and collective identities of locals and foreigners at the settlement and their involvement in the region’s trajectory. Theoretically informed and contextualized discussions offer unique glimpses of everyday life and death in the socially fluid Maya city. These findings, in conjunction with other documented series of skeletal remains from this region, provide a nuanced picture of the social and biocultural dynamics that operated successfully for centuries before the arrival of the Itzá.
The Friar and the Maya offers a full study and new translation of the Relación de las Cosas de Yucatán (Account of the Things of Yucatan) by a unique set of eminent scholars, created by them over more than a decade from the original manuscript held by the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid. This critical and careful reading of the Account is long overdue in Maya studies and will forever change how this seminal text is understood and used.
For generations, scholars used (and misused) the Account as the sole eyewitness insight into an ancient civilization. It is credited to the sixteenth-century Spanish Franciscan, monastic inquisitor, and bishop Diego de Landa, whose legacy is complex and contested. His extensive writings on Maya culture and history were lost in the seventeenth century, save for the fragment that is the Account, discovered in the nineteenth century, and accorded near-biblical status in the twentieth as the first “ethnography” of the Maya. However, the Account is not authored by Landa alone; it is a compilation of excerpts, many from writings by other Spaniards—a significant revelation made here for the first time.
This new translation accurately reflects the style and vocabulary of the original manuscript. It is augmented by a monograph—comprising an introductory chapter, seven essays, and hundreds of notes—that describes, explains, and analyzes the life and times of Diego de Landa, the Account, and the role it has played in the development of modern Maya studies. The Friar and the Maya is an innovative presentation on an important and previously misunderstood primary source.
Prehistoric economic relationships are often presented as genderless, yet mounting research highlights the critical role gendered identities play in the division of work tasks and the development of specialized production in pre-modern economic systems. In Gendered Labor in Specialized Economies, contributors combine the study of gender in the archaeological record with the examination of intensified craft production in prehistory to reassess the connection between craft specialization and the types and amount of work that men and women performed in ancient communities.
Chapters are organized by four interrelated themes crucial for understanding the implications of gender in the organization of craft production: craft specialization and the political economy, combined effort in specialized production, the organization of female and male specialists, and flexibility and rigidity in the gendered division of labor. Contributors consider how changes to the gendered division of labor in craft manufacture altered other types of production or resulted from modifications in the organization of production elsewhere in the economic system.
Striking a balance between theoretical and methodological approaches and presenting case studies from sites around the world, Gendered Labor in Specialized Economies offers a guide to the major issues that will frame future research on how men’s and women’s work changes, predisposes, and structures the course of economic development in various societies.
Contributors: Alejandra Alonso Olvera, Traci Ardren, Michael G. Callaghan, Nigel Chang, Cathy Lynne Costin, Pilar Margarita Hernández Escontrías, A. Halliwell, Sue Harrington, James M. Heidke, Sophia E. Kelly, Brigitte Kovacevich, T. Kam Manahan, Ann Brower Stahl, Laura Swantek, Rita Wright, Andrea Yankowski
For the ancient Maya, food was both sustenance and a tool for building a complex society. This collection, the first to focus exclusively on the social uses of food in Classic Maya culture, deploys a variety of theoretical approaches to examine the meaning of food beyond diet—ritual offerings and restrictions, medicinal preparations, and the role of nostalgia around food, among other topics. For instance, how did Maya feasts build community while also reinforcing social hierarchy? What psychoactive substances were the elite Maya drinking in their caves, and why? Which dogs were good for eating, and which breeds became companions? Why did even some non-elite Maya enjoy cacao, but rarely meat? Why was meat more available for urban Maya than for those closer to hunting grounds on the fringes of cities? How did the molcajete become a vital tool and symbol in Maya gastronomy?
These chapters, written by some of the leading scholars in the field, showcase a variety of approaches and present new evidence from faunal remains, hieroglyphic texts, chemical analyses, and art. Thoughtful and revealing, Her Cup for Sweet Cacao unlocks a more comprehensive understanding of how food was instrumental to the development of ancient Maya culture.
The first book to focus on children in ancient Mesoamerica, this vital reference offers a key methodological guide for archaeologists studying children and their roles not only in Mesoamerica, but also in ancient societies worldwide.
Contributors examine material evidence, historical records, and iconography, productively criticizing the claim that children are invisible in the archaeological record and elucidating an ancient childhood comprising multiple and complex identities. They explore the methodological and theoretical difficulties created when investigating childhood - a category defined by each culture - in the archaeological record.
Sure to appeal widely to New World and Old World archaeologists and anthropologists, The Social Experience of Childhood in Ancient Mesoamerica will open up new avenues of research into the lives of this previously overlooked yet remarkably large population.
Contributors include Traci Ardren, Ximena Chávez Balderas, Billie Follensbee, Byron Hamann, Scott R. Hutson, Rosemary A. Joyce, Stacie M. King, Jeanne Lopiparo, Patricia McAnany, Geoffrey G. McCafferty, Sharisse D. McCafferty, Juan Alberto Román Berrelleza, Rebecca Storey, Rissa M. Trachman, Fred Valdez Jr.
Using new archaeological data from four major cities of the Classic Maya world, this book explores how gender, age, familial and community memories, and the experience of living in an urban setting interacted to form social identities.
Social Identities in the Classic Maya Northern Lowlands plumbs the archaeological record for what it can reveal about the creation of personal and communal identities in the Maya world. Using new primary data from her excavations at the sites of Yaxuna, Chunchucmil, and Xuenkal, and new analysis of data from Dzibilchaltun in Yucatan, Mexico, Traci Ardren presents a series of case studies in how social identities were created, shared, and manipulated among the lowland Maya.
Ardren argues that the interacting factors of gender, age, familial and community memories, and the experience of living in an urban setting were some of the key aspects of Maya identities. She demonstrates that domestic and civic spaces were shaped by gender-specific behaviors to communicate and reinforce gendered ideals. Ardren discusses how child burials disclose a sustained pattern of reverence for the potential of childhood and the power of certain children to mediate ancestral power. She shows how small shrines built a century after Yaxuna was largely abandoned indicate that its remaining residents used memory to reenvision their city during a time of cultural reinvention. And Ardren explains how Chunchucmil’s physical layout of houses, plazas, and surrounding environment denotes that its occupants shared an urban identity centered in the movement of trade goods and economic exchange. Viewing this evidence through the lens of the social imaginary and other recent social theory, Ardren demonstrates that material culture and its circulations are an integral part of the discourse about social identity and group membership.