This book offers an interpretation of the philosophical thought of the ancient Maya, in the classic and postclassic periods. Alexus McLeod adopts philosophical methodology, comparative philosophy, and history of philosophy to reveal and understand the ancient Maya by engaging with Maya thought as philosophy.
The white-tailed deer had a prominent status in Maya civilization; it was the most important wild-animal food source at many inland Maya sites and also functioned as a major ceremonial symbol. Offering an in-depth semantic analysis of this imagery, The Beast Between considers iconography, hieroglyphic texts, mythological discourses, and ritual narratives to translate the significance and meaning of the vibrant metaphors expressed in a variety of artifacts depicting deer and hunting. Charting the progression of deer as a key component of the Maya diet, especially for elites, to the coupling of deer and maize in the Maya worldview, The Beast Between reveals a close and long-term interdependence. Not only are deer depicted naturalistically in hunting and ritual scenes, but they are also ascribed with human attributes. This rich imagery reflects the many ways in which deer hunting was linked to status, sexuality, and war as part of a deeper process to ensure the regeneration of both agriculture and ancestry. Drawing on methodologies of art history, archaeology, and ethnology, this illuminating work is poised to become a key resource for multiple fields.
In this thought-provoking book, preeminent scholar Stephen Houston turns his attention to the crucial role of young males in Classic Maya society, drawing on evidence from art, writing, and material culture. The Gifted Passage establishes that adolescent men in Maya art were the subjects and makers of hieroglyphics, painted ceramics, and murals, in works that helped to shape and reflect masculinity in Maya civilization. The political volatility of the Classic Maya period gave male adolescents valuable status as potential heirs, and many of the most precious surviving ceramics likely celebrated their coming-of-age rituals. The ardent hope was that youths would grow into effective kings and noblemen, capable of leadership in battle and service in royal courts. Aiming to shift mainstream conceptions of the Maya, Houston argues that adolescent men were not simply present in images and texts, but central to both.
This exciting collection explores the interplay of religion and politics in the precolumbian Americas. Each thought-provoking contribution positions religion as a primary factor influencing political innovations in this period, reinterpreting major changes through an examination of how religion both facilitated and constrained transformations in political organization and status relations. Offering unparalleled geographic and temporal coverage of this subject, Religion and Politics in the Ancient Americas spans the entire precolumbian period, from Preceramic Peru to the Contact period in eastern North America, with case studies from North, Middle, and South America. Religion and Politics in the Ancient Americas considers the ways in which religion itself generated political innovation and thus enabled political centralization to occur. It moves beyond a "Great Tradition" focus on elite religion to understand how local political authority was negotiated, contested, bolstered, and undermined within diverse constituencies, demonstrating how religion has transformed non-Western societies. As well as offering readers fresh perspectives on specific archaeological cases, this book breaks new ground in the archaeological examination of religion and society.
Coe and Houston update this classic account of the New Worlds greatest ancient civilization, incorporating the most recent research in a fast-changing field. New discoveries of spectacular stucco sculptures at El Zotz and Holmul reveal surprising aspects of Maya royalty; the Classic Maya themselves can be understood as occupants of royal courts, full of Machiavellian intrigue yet operating in close communion with gods and cosmos. Just-discovered texts at Xultun show a strong concern with astronomy and numerology, as well as evidence of lost books. Other finds include the discovery in an underwater cavern of the earliest known occupant of the region, the Hoyo Negro girl, and new evidence for the first architecture at Ceibal. The Maya highlights the vitality of current scholarship into this brilliant civilization.