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Kukulcan's Realm

Kukulcan's Realm: Urban Life at Ancient Mayapán

Marilyn A. Masson
Carlos Peraza Lope
with contributions by Timothy S. Hare
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 624
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  • Book Info
    Kukulcan's Realm
    Book Description:

    Kukulcan's Realmchronicles the fabric of socioeconomic relationships and religious practice that bound the Postclassic Maya city of Mayapán's urban residents together for nearly three centuries. Presenting results of ten years of household archaeology at the city, including field research and laboratory analysis, the book discusses the social, political, economic, and ideological makeup of this complex urban center.

    Masson and Peraza Lope's detailed overview provides evidence of a vibrant market economy that played a critical role in the city's political and economic success. They offer new perspectives from the homes of governing elites, secondary administrators, affluent artisans, and poorer members of the service industries. Household occupational specialists depended on regional trade for basic provisions that were essential to crafting industries, sustenance, and quality of life. Settlement patterns reveal intricate relationships of households with neighbors, garden plots, cultivable fields, thoroughfares, and resources. Urban planning endeavored to unite the cityscape and to integrate a pluralistic populace that derived from hometowns across the Yucatán peninsula.

    New data from Mayapán, the pinnacle of Postclassic Maya society, contribute to a paradigm change regarding the evolution and organization of Maya society in general and makeKukulcan's Realma must-read for students and scholars of the ancient Maya and Mesoamerica.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-320-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xxii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xxix-xxxvi)
  6. 1 Archaeological Investigations of an Ancient Urban Place
    (pp. 1-38)
    Marilyn A. Masson and Carlos Peraza Lope

    This book presents new perspectives on the complexity of ancient urban life at the last regional political capital in late Maya history at Mayapán, Yucatán, Mexico. This city was the largest urban center of the Postclassic Maya world for about 250 years; its apogee dates from around AD 1200–1450. Analysis of archaeological assemblages of dwellings and public buildings at ancient cities like Mayapán advance historical and comparative anthropology’s contributions to understanding urban life in the premodern world. City dwellers from lowly to exalted social ranks in world history shared important experiences and sought to resolve parallel problems. They contended...

  7. 2 Politics and Monumental Legacies
    (pp. 39-104)
    Carlos Peraza Lope and Marilyn A. Masson

    The topic of Postclassic Maya political structure has been studied extensively. Contact Period documentary accounts offer intriguing details and scholarly attention has focused on the changes that contrast political systems of this period with those of earlier Maya intervals (e.g., Roys 1957; Schele and Freidel 1990; Fox 1987; Schele and Mathews 1998; Jones 1998; Masson 2001a; Masson 2001b; Masson, Hare, and Peraza Lope 2006; Ringle and Bey 2001; Ringle 2004; Restall 2001; Sabloff 2007). This chapter provides an overview of historical and archaeological data that reflect aspects of Mayapán’s modes of governance. As a result of recent research, the city’s...

  8. 3 An Outlying Temple, Hall, and Elite Residence
    (pp. 105-148)
    Carlos Peraza Lope and Marilyn A. Masson

    Documenting the complexity of an urban place such as Mayapán relies to an important degree on evidence for specialization and differentiation within the basic institutions of social, political, economic, and religious organization (Kent 1990a, 1990b; Trigger 1968:57). Civic-ceremonial and residential architecture have great potential to reflect functional or social spatial segregation that accompanies occupational diversification and bureaucratic development (Inomata 2001). This chapter examines the details of three examples of differentiated administrative and ritual features in Mayapán’s residential zone: an outlying temple, a colonnaded hall, and an elite residence. Architects of these groups took pains to design and build these edifices...

  9. 4 The Urban Cityscape
    (pp. 149- 192)
    Timothy S. Hare, Marilyn A. Masson and Carlos Peraza Lope

    New analyses of Mayapán’s urban form and layout reveal principles of the organization and articulation of the city’s residential and public districts. Chapter 3 addressed the activities performed at specific outlying nodes in the cityscape, and in this chapter we consider the full array of special function features that reveal differentiation and division of the settlement zone, including a market plaza and other open spaces, temples and halls outside of the epicenter, elite residences, principal wells (cenotes), and stone-marked pedestrian pathways. We argue that these features indicate degrees of formal planning and the distribution of mid-level institutions in the settlement...

  10. 5 The Social Mosaic
    (pp. 193-268)
    Marilyn A. Masson, Timothy S. Hare and Carlos Peraza Lope

    This chapter assesses dimensions of social organization from the perspective of Mayapán’s dwellings. We assess dwelling style and size as well as patterned configurations of dwelling groups, benches, orientation,albarradaenclosures, and special function buildings. Data is primarily derived from mapping efforts within the milpa areas studied at Mayapán (figure 1.7), and thus, the patterns reflect surface observations. These findings contribute toward identifying social differences such as wealth, status, and ethnicity across the urban landscape. Wealth and status tend to vary along a continuum in the archaeology of complex societies (chapter 3; M. Smith 1987:318, 327). House size and elaboration...

  11. 6 The Economic Foundations
    (pp. 269-424)
    Marilyn A. Masson and Carlos Peraza Lope

    Our research into the economic foundations of Mayapán has focused on the relationships of both commoner and elite producers and consumers across the urban landscape. Evidence for occupational specialization and interhousehold economic dependencies reflects economic interaction at the houselot, regional, and interregional scales. Determining the degree to which Mayapán households were provisioned by others residing within the city or far beyond its borders is crucial for reconstructing the complexities and impacts of market exchange. The importance of labor and labor’s rewards in terms of affluence is closely tied to a continuum of craft production and value that incorporates the mundane...

  12. 7 Religious Practice
    (pp. 425-520)
    Carlos Peraza Lope and Marilyn A. Masson

    The distribution of sculptural art at Mayapán provides new perspectives on religious practice at the city. Marilyn A. Masson (2000:197–216) originally analyzed some patterns of sculpture distribution at Mayapán using Tatiana Proskouriakoff’s (1962a,1962b) published illustrations of examples from temples, halls, oratories, shrines, and elite residences. This chapter focuses specifically on religious art and builds on the earlier study by incorporating all published examples of Mayapán effigy ceramic sculptures from Robert E. Smith (1971), chapters in the CarnegieCurrent Reportseries, and stone sculptures and censers recovered by Carlos Peraza Lope’s INAH-Mayapán project from the 1996 through 2004 seasons. As...

  13. 8 Militarism, Misery, and Collapse
    (pp. 521-540)
    Marilyn A. Masson and Carlos Peraza Lope

    Mayapán’s collapse is traditionally associated with the short-term events of factional strife and abandonment during K’atun 8 Ahau, AD 1441–1461 (Landa 1941: 36–7). A longer view of the last half of the city’s history reveals that its fall was the culmination of a struggle lasting at least a century against natural and social forces that would have abutted against the survival capacities of any ancient political capital. Interrelated factors that aggravated the stability of Mayapán were threefold—environmental catastrophes, factional divides, and warfare. Although these issues challenged the city’s regimes throughout its history, they coalesced and were amplified...

  14. 9 Recognizing Complexity in Urban Life
    (pp. 541-560)
    Marilyn A. Masson and Carlos Peraza Lope

    The complexity of urban institutions at the city of Mayapán is reflected in the details of the chapters of this book. This new look at the last major Pre-Columbian Maya political capital reveals multiple layers of political, urban, social, economic, and religious organization. The general history of Mayapán’s most influential governors has been known since Diego de Landa’s day, and here we have looked beneath the surface to explore evidence for middle-level political cohesion that would have tied the city’s lords to its ordinary laborers. Within the cityscape, characteristics of architectural form, size, function, and artifact assemblages attest to subsystems...

  15. References Cited
    (pp. 561-618)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 619-620)
  17. Index
    (pp. 621-651)