The Apotheosis of Janaab' Pakal

The Apotheosis of Janaab' Pakal: Science, History, and Religion at Classic Maya Palenque

GERARDO ALDANA
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 164
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46ns93
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    The Apotheosis of Janaab' Pakal
    Book Description:

    The Apotheosis of Janaab' Pakal takes up anew the riddles within a number of Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions first recognized by Floyd Lounsbury. Gerardo Aldana unpacks these mathematical riddles using an approach grounded in a reading of the texts made possible by recent advances in decipherment. Using a history of science methodology, he expands upon (and sometimes questions) the foundational work of archaeoastronomers. Aldana follows three lines of investigation: a reading of the hieroglyphic inscriptions of the Classic period (a.d. 250-900), mathematical analysis to recover Classic Maya astronomical practice, and a historiography of Maya astronomy. Quoted hieroglyphs appear throughout the text for cross-examination. Aldana reveals the social and political context of Maya astronomy by explicating the science and calendrical calculations found in the tablets of the Temple of Inscriptions and the Cross Group from the city of Palenque. He offers a compelling interpretation of an 819-day count, demonstrating its utility as an astronumerological tool that Maya scribes used to simplify complex calculations. During troubled times in Palenque, Aldana contends, Kan Balam II devised a means to preserve the legitimacy of his ruling dynasty. He celebrated a re-creation of the city as a contemporary analogue of a mythical Creation on three levels: monumental construction for a public audience, artistic patronage for an elite audience, and a secret mathematical astronomical language only for rulers-elect. Discussing all of these efforts, Aldana focuses on the recovery of the secret language and its historical context.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-072-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. FOREWORD
    (pp. xiii-xvi)

    The study of Mesoamerican worlds has been enormously enriched by breakthroughs in decipherment of Maya writing during the last thirty years. As our understanding of Maya writing has advanced, giving us insight into the imaginations and rituals of Maya scribes and priests, public and published debates about glyphs, gods, myth and history, political order and social hierarchy, and culture and ecology have spread with precision and intensity. Maya studies has become a site for cooperation, opposition, dialogue, and disputation. Gerardo Aldana’s The Apotheosis of Janaab’ Pakal: Science, History, and Religion at Classic Maya Palenque is an impressive example of these...

  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. ORTHOGRAPHY
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  7. NAMES
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  8. CALENDRICS
    (pp. xxvii-xxxii)
  9. HIEROGLYPHIC SCRIPT
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
  10. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-22)

    Just before dawn, a Maya king sat ready with his troops, awaiting the sighting of Venus as morning star before consenting to engage his enemy in warfare—or so a number of studies would have us believe. According to conventional interpretations, Chak Ek’ (the Maya name for Venus) would have to show his celestial face in order to generate an omen favorable for entering battle. Thus, the astronomer’s grave responsibility was to make accurate predictions of Chak Ek’s visibility so that his king and the king’s army would not have arisen early for nothing.

    Such a practice—that of preparing...

  11. CHAPTER ONE NEW LIFE AT B’AAKAL
    (pp. 23-44)

    Janaab’ Pakal was born into the noble class amidst political turmoil. In the Classic Maya calendar, he “touched the earth” on 9.8.9.13.0 8 Ajaw 13 Pop, just over a year after the accession of the ninth¹ ruler of Palenque, Aj Ne’ Ohl Mat (see Table 1.1). Aj Ne’ Ohl Mat took the throne after Ix Yohl Ik’nal, the first attested ruling woman of a Classic Maya city, who ruled for over twenty years. Her rule must have been impressive, for it withstood attacks from two Usumacinta-region neighbors, Pia and Bonampak, allowing her to remain in power for longer than her...

  12. CHAPTER TWO RECOVERING MAYA ASTRONOMY
    (pp. 45-74)

    The study of Maya astronomy and calendrics by cMd scholars has a much longer history than is usually treated in the Mayanist literature. Most references begin with the groundbreaking work of Ernst Förstemann in the nineteenth century, over 100 years before the modern decipherment of the hieroglyphic script. Although his work is of uncontestable import, careful attention paid to colonial history reveals a more complex relationship between European and Maya scholars (Aldana 2001b: 273–312; Clendinnen 1987:154–160; Farriss 1984:286–319; cf. Boone 2000:2). This complexity affected the retrieval of Maya astronomy and thus the interpretations of Maya culture during...

  13. CHAPTER THREE CONSTRUCTING PORTALS
    (pp. 75-110)

    Approximately 150 years after the death of Janaab’ Pakal, at the end of the Classic period, the city of Palenque was abandoned. Its structures lay dormant for several centuries thereafter, slowly reclaimed by the forest. Interest in the ruins remained local until the end of the eighteenth century when representatives of the Spanish Crown visited the site in search of collectibles (Griffin 1974; Schele and Freidel 1990:460). Soon named after the nearby town of Palenque, the ruins attracted further visitors who made drawings of a number of carved tablets found in three small temples. Over the next 100 years, these...

  14. CHAPTER FOUR ERRORS AND IDENTITIES
    (pp. 111-130)

    As mentioned previously, twentieth-century Mayanists Floyd Lounsbury, Linda Schele, and Peter Mathews focused much of their early attention on working out the dates associated with the first rulers of the Palenque dynasty. I suggest that Janaab’ Pakal’s historians faced a similarly difficult task with the commissioning of the tablets in the Temple of Inscriptions. These court historians were charged with the assignment of reaching back in time in order to link the events of Creation explicitly to those of the beginning of Palenque’s dynastic history. The reason for the challenge here comes from the fact that for times as early...

  15. CHAPTER FIVE THE PUBLIC FACE OF RE-CREATION
    (pp. 131-154)

    We have already seen one motivation for the tablets in the Temple of Inscriptions, commissioned as they were to adorn the temple atop the funerary monument of a great leader. Yet within the texts of the Temple of Inscriptions’ third tablet we have also noted a telling anomaly—one that reveals a different sort of motivation. The third tablet is very different in character from the first two. Although the first tablet contains a break in normalcy with the record of the battle, the third tablet’s break leads to a jumble of historical records without clear theme or consistent chronology....

  16. CHAPTER SIX RE-CREATION THROUGH K’AWIILIAN ASTRONOMY
    (pp. 155-184)

    The inscriptions from Kan B’ahlam’s Triad Group have been mined by modern scholarship for several different purposes. During the early eighteenth century, they were reproduced as evidence of a glorious “lost” civilization. During the twentieth century, John Teeple was able to tease out elements of Maya lunar astronomy from these tablets. And most recently, they have been a primary source in the restoration of the Palenque dynasty. So far, though, none of these studies has looked at the tablets as whole documents revealing the nuances of Classic Maya political and elite religious thought. In this chapter, we do just that...

  17. CHAPTER SEVEN ZUYUATHAN: SECRET KNOWLEDGE AND THE MAINTENANCE OF POWER
    (pp. 185-196)

    I have noted that this book constitutes an elite history of a short time period at Classic Maya Palenque. The attempt has not been to retrieve life as it was experienced by all inhabitants of the ancient city. Rather, the goal has been to retrieve a noble perspective in order to gain a view of the world they aimed to construct both physically and intellectually.

    Although it closes some doors, such an approach opens others. For example, we may now focus on the fact that the astronumerology recorded in the Triad Group was maintained in a highly private ritual space....

  18. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 197-202)

    As noted at the end of the last chapter, Kan B’ahlam II was able to patronize a calendric invention and convert it into a tool that served the state as a demonstration of the intellectual resources available to the ancient Maya ajawtahk in their quests for political legitimation. We have also seen that the project built with the 819-day count served in a much larger agenda. Partially, it preserved the memory of Janaab’ Pakal’s ritual recovery of the religious charter of Palenque. But the 819-day count also facilitated the preservation of a Nal-k’awiil-based Zuyua within an architectural group that brought...

  19. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 203-206)
  20. REFERENCES
    (pp. 207-226)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 227-234)