Browsing Arizona Anthropologist: Issue #16 (2005) by Authors
Person and Place in Preclassic Maya Community Ritual (400 BC - AD 300)Bachand, Bruce R.; Bachand, Holly Sullivan; University of Arizona; University of California, Berkeley (University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 2005)Preclassic Maya centers were vibrant stages of performance where communities gathered to reaffirm and redefine themselves. Ceremonial pyramids and plazas were tangible and powerful receptacles of past and present forms of community identity. Archaeological remains enable us to develop a multi-generational sketch of public ritual life in the Maya lowlands from 400 BC to AD 300. Transformations in public performance and community participation corresponded with a series of modifications to ceremonial precints. Public architecture in many communities became increasingly less accessible to a large audience of observers. The artistic imagery associated with these buildings also changed markedly - initially depicting zoomorphic or masked beings and ultimately culminating in the portraiture of real historic personages. Concomitant with these changes were pronounced innovations in ritual interment as certain community members began to be entombed in and around public architecture. Taken together, these features suggest Preclassic Maya communities altered their ritual practices to accommodate emerging social realities and inchoate political identities.