Politics in Plazas: Classic Maya Ritual Performance at El Palmar, Campeche, Mexico

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/339054
Title:
Politics in Plazas: Classic Maya Ritual Performance at El Palmar, Campeche, Mexico
Author:
Tsukamoto, Kenichiro
Issue Date:
2014
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This dissertation research examines the political significance of plazas in ancient Maya society from the Late Preclassic period through the Terminal Classic period (ca. 150 B.C.- A.D. 900). I consider plazas not as by-products of temples and palaces, but as political arenas in which different social actors created and transformed social realities and values. My primary question is how power relations and ideologies emerge from people's practices and their engagements with materiality--more specifically, the construction of plazas and ritual performances. I address this question through the combination of various methods including the following: spatial analyses based on GIS, extensive excavations, epigraphic studies, and material analyses through petrographic microscopy and particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE). Using these methods, I conducted archaeological research at El Palmar, a Maya polity located in southeastern Campeche of Mexico. During the 2007-2014 field seasons, I investigated eleven plazas in total with eight located in the urban core and three in its outlying areas. The results from the urban core suggest that the power relations at El Palmar changed through time. Such changes are reflected in the designs of both public and exclusive plazas and associated ritual events. The results in the north outlying plaza, where a hieroglyphic stairway was built around A.D.726, further suggest that a group of officials negotiated their status and power with rulers. The protagonist of the event was not an El Palmar ruler but an official who emphasized diplomatic relations with foreign rulers, giving the El Palmar ruler only scant reference. Considering inter-regional contexts, however, they were not only engaged in internal power struggles, but also cooperated to negotiate with foreign dynasties. This complex mechanism of power was closely tied to the remodeling of the plaza and ideological symbolism materialized by mortuary practice, fire rituals, and termination rituals. My dissertation concludes that ritual performances in outlying plazas were not merely a reflection of royal ideology promoted by rulers but could have introduced new power and ideological relations in the community, relations that would be difficult to identify solely through the analysis of the main plaza.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Maya; Mesoamerica; Plaza; Power; Ritual Performance; Ideology; Anthropology
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Anthropology
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Inomata, Takeshi

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.titlePolitics in Plazas: Classic Maya Ritual Performance at El Palmar, Campeche, Mexicoen_US
dc.creatorTsukamoto, Kenichiroen_US
dc.contributor.authorTsukamoto, Kenichiroen_US
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation research examines the political significance of plazas in ancient Maya society from the Late Preclassic period through the Terminal Classic period (ca. 150 B.C.- A.D. 900). I consider plazas not as by-products of temples and palaces, but as political arenas in which different social actors created and transformed social realities and values. My primary question is how power relations and ideologies emerge from people's practices and their engagements with materiality--more specifically, the construction of plazas and ritual performances. I address this question through the combination of various methods including the following: spatial analyses based on GIS, extensive excavations, epigraphic studies, and material analyses through petrographic microscopy and particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE). Using these methods, I conducted archaeological research at El Palmar, a Maya polity located in southeastern Campeche of Mexico. During the 2007-2014 field seasons, I investigated eleven plazas in total with eight located in the urban core and three in its outlying areas. The results from the urban core suggest that the power relations at El Palmar changed through time. Such changes are reflected in the designs of both public and exclusive plazas and associated ritual events. The results in the north outlying plaza, where a hieroglyphic stairway was built around A.D.726, further suggest that a group of officials negotiated their status and power with rulers. The protagonist of the event was not an El Palmar ruler but an official who emphasized diplomatic relations with foreign rulers, giving the El Palmar ruler only scant reference. Considering inter-regional contexts, however, they were not only engaged in internal power struggles, but also cooperated to negotiate with foreign dynasties. This complex mechanism of power was closely tied to the remodeling of the plaza and ideological symbolism materialized by mortuary practice, fire rituals, and termination rituals. My dissertation concludes that ritual performances in outlying plazas were not merely a reflection of royal ideology promoted by rulers but could have introduced new power and ideological relations in the community, relations that would be difficult to identify solely through the analysis of the main plaza.en_US
dc.typetexten
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen
dc.subjectMayaen_US
dc.subjectMesoamericaen_US
dc.subjectPlazaen_US
dc.subjectPoweren_US
dc.subjectRitual Performanceen_US
dc.subjectIdeologyen_US
dc.subjectAnthropologyen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAnthropologyen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorInomata, Takeshien_US
dc.contributor.committeememberInomata, Takeshien_US
dc.contributor.committeememberTriadan, Danielaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberLansing, John Stephenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberFogelin, Larsen_US
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