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Palaces and Power in the Americas

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Palaces and Power in the Americas. From Peru to the Northwest Coast. Edited by Jessica Joyce Christie and Patricia Joan Sarro. (University of Texas Press, Austin: 2006. Pg. 432. 126 Figures, 6 Tables.) ISBN: 0-292-70984-6.

Reviewed by Simon Bonim - July 31, 2006

Edited by Jessica Joyce Christie and Patricia Joan Sarro, Palaces and Power in the Americas: From Peru to the Northwest Coast consists of a series of twelve papers on a range of ancient Palaces found throughout the Ancient Americas. The papers in this collection delineate between palaces and other types of elite structures, and they not only look at well-known examples of palaces, but also at some previous unknown or overlooked examples. The role these palaces played in their respective cultures and how they compared to palaces in other cultures are also covered. The papers in this collection are organized into four main sections:
  1. Identification of Palaces
  2. Palaces as Active Stage Sets of Political Ideology
  3. Correspondences between Material Aspects of Elite Residences and Social Status
  4. Comparison of Places across Cultures
The papers in this collection offer a cross-discipline overview of the function played by palaces and how these palaces helped to shape the power structure that made use of them. This text also provides detailed information about the history of each palace discussed, its layout and geographical location, general architecture of each palace, and the social status of those that resided in or used the palaces.

A sampling of the papers that you will find in this collection include: Palaces and Power in the Americas: From Peru to the Northwest Coast is a detailed and informative book that expands our understanding of the role played by Palaces, and it introduces several previously undocumented palaces. It provides a compelling overview of how the palaces helped to provide an aura of power to its residence, and how the palaces were used to helped rulers to keep their powers. It also provides an in-depth overview of the numerous archaeological sites at which these palaces are found, the palace's architecture, and how the compounds were organized and their layouts. All in all, a fascinating and informative book that greatly contributes to the field of archaeology and our understanding the various peoples that inhabited the ancient Americas.

Related Reviews:

Maya Palaces and Elite Residences, Edited by Jessica Joyce Christie.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the essays in this collection strive to answer the questions: What were the Mayan Palaces, how were they used, and who, if anyone lived in them?

Lightning Warrior - Maya Art and Kingship at Quirigua, By Matthew G. Looper.
Detailing the reign of K'ak' Tiliw, based upon the epigraphic, iconogrpahic, stylistic, and archeological evidence that has been revealed at Quirigua.

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