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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Temple histories and communities of practice in early Maya society: Archaeological investigations at Caobal, Petén, Guatemala
by Munson, Jessica, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2012, 550; 3506430
Abstract (Summary)

The architectural remains of prehispanic Maya monumental buildings represent a series of actions, decisions, and repeated practices, which contribute to the long sequences of construction observed in the archaeological record. This dissertation examines the history of temple construction and architectural changes at Caobal, a small center located near Ceibal in the Pasión region of Guatemala, to address questions about related social and political transformations during the Preclassic and Classic periods. The current study outlines a multilayered diachronic approach to investigate the ways prehispanic Maya communities constructed and modified their social landscape over long periods of time by participating in the tradition of monumental building.

This study views minor temples such as Caobal as local nodes of community and religious interaction for groups outside the core of major Maya centers. By focusing on the materiality and temporality of minor temple architecture beyond primary centers of power, we can examine how these buildings were comprised of daily practices, identity politics, and religious values in prehispanic Maya society. The durability and permanence of these features, as well as deviations and modifications to earlier forms, demonstrate how such religious principles and practices intersected with the production of local politics and institutions of centralized authority.

This study also views the acts of monument construction itself as part of an ongoing ritual process in prehispanic Maya society. The materialization and proliferation of temple architecture during the Preclassic and Classic periods can be regarded as pervasive expressions of political power and religious ideology, yet these architectural practices were not comprised of fixed or timeless traditions. To understand how specific memory practices and historical narratives shaped prehispanic Maya architectural traditions, this study examines not only the material and social foundations of these declarations but also the processes by which people's actions shaped and transformed their relationship with those who came before them.

Ultimately, these processes involve the negotiation of internal conflicts and social difference as well as external power struggles. Using the local history of monument construction at Caobal, this study demonstrates how prehispanic Maya communities actively constructed and transformed their social worlds by building on the past.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Inomata, Takeshi
Commitee: Aldenderfer, Mark, Lansing, J. Stephen, Triadan, Daniela
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Architecture, Caobal, Communities of practice, Community, Guatemala, History, Maya, Memory, Peten, Politics, Temple
Publication Number: 3506430
ISBN: 978-1-267-31862-6
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