History in Review
Maya Palaces and Elite Residences
An Interdisciplinary Approach, Edited by Jessica Joyce Christie. The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies. (University of Texas Press, Austin: 2003. Pg. x, 340. Illustrations, Tables.) ISBN: 0-292-71244-8.
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - July 21, 2003
Maya Palaces and Elite Residences is a compelling new book that is edited by Jessica Joyce Christie. This book contains a series of essays that take an interdisciplinary approach to the study and interpretation of the Mayan structures that were originally duped palacios (palaces) by the Spanish. Through the years there has been much disagreement as to what these palaces were actually used for, and what they were. In this fascinating book, the reader is introduced to current theories, and research currently underway, on the origins and purposes of the Mayan Palaces.
These essays not only discuss what types of buildings are normally classed as palaces, but also how they differ, architecturally and functionally, from other elite residences. The essays also cover such diverse topics as what the spatial arrangements of the buildings teach us about the Mayan mind set to the various ceremonial activities that are likely to have taken place in the palaces.
A quick look at the titles of the essays contained in this collection will give you a fair idea of the expansive scope of the material covered with in the pages of this book, both geographically and methodologically.
Maya Palaces and Elite Residences will be welcomed by both scholars in the field, and students with an interest in Mesoamerican archaeology and history. For those without a firm grounding in this field, the text includes a concise overview of Mayan history and culture. Also discussed in this overview is the current methodologies being used in studying the Maya, and how the study of the Maya and their structures have changed overtime.
- Elite Residences at Blue Creek, Belize, by Thomas H. Guderjan, Robert J. Lichtenstein, and C. Colleen Hanratty
- At Court in Copan: Palace Groups of the Early Classic, by Loa P. Traxler.
- A Multipurpose Structure in the Late Classic Palace at Copan, by E. Wyllys Andrews V, Jodi L. Johnson, William F. Doonan, Gloria E. Everson, Kathryn E. Sampeck, and Harold E. Starratt.
- Palaces of the Royal Court at Tikal, by Peter D'Arcy Harrision.
- The Poliitcal Acquisition of Sacred Geography: The Murcielagos Comples at Dos Pilas, by Arthur Demarest, Kim Morgan, Claudia Wolley, and Hector Escobedo.
- Where Did Elites Live? Identifying Elite Residences at Aguateca, Guatemala, by Takeshi Inomata and Daniela Triadan.
- Access Patterns in Maya Royal Precincts, by Rodrigo Liendo Stuardo.
- Evidence for the Functions and Meanings of Some Northern Maya Palaces, by Jeff Karl Kowalski.
- The Function of a Maya Palace at Yaxuna: A Contextual Approach, by James N. Ambrosino.
- Palace and Society in the Northern Maya Lowlands, by Edward B. Kurjack.
- The Tripartite Layout of Rooms in Maya Elite Residences: Symbolic Centering, Ritual Mediating, and Historical Governing, by Jessica Joyce Christie
Within the scope of this work, detailed site reports / analysis are provided about the palaces and elite structures located at the Mayan sites of Blue Creek, Copan, Tikal, Dos Pilas, Aguateca, Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Dzibilchaltun, and Yaxuna. According to the books introduction, "The main purpose of this volume is to present an interdisciplinary approach and bring together scholars in archaeology, anthropology, art history, and epigraphy, as well as information from a number of different Maya sites, to see what kind of formal and functional patterns in palaces and elite residences can be isolated and in which ways they reflect the structure of Maya society." (Pg 9.) This is precisely what is accomplished with this volume, and as such it serves as an outstanding reference guide to the subject of Maya palaces and elite residences and their place in Mayan society! In addition, Maya Palaces and Elite Residences is a compelling book that poses almost as many questions as it answers. Consequently it is sure to have prominent place in all future discussion on the Mayan Palaces.
Palaces and Power in the Americas: From Peru to the Northwest Coast, edited by Jessica Joyce Christie and Patricia Joan Sarro.
Twelve essays that detail the archaeological, historical, and cultural relevance of various palaces found throughout the ancient Americas.
Water and Ritual - The Rise and Fall of Classic Maya Rulers, by Lisa J. Lucero.
An in-depth look at the roles that water and ritual played in Mayan culture and politics.
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