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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Bridging the chasm between religion and politics: Archaeological investigations of the grietas at the Late Classic Maya site of Aguateca, Peten, Guatemala
by Ishihara, Reiko, Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2007, 452; 3270419
Abstract (Summary)

Archaeological investigations were conducted in the Grieta Principal, a large chasm that runs through the middle of the Late Classic Maya center of Aguateca, Peten, Guatemala. The central location of the grieta in addition to the incorporation of the grieta feature in the place name glyph suggested its religious importance to the Aguateca people. Alternatively, the unique morphology of the geological feature, such as exposed light spaces, seemed conducive to other activities or functions, including waste disposal from the residential buildings bordering the grieta and a mass graveyard of fallen bodies and weapons from the battles that presumably ensued at the end of Aguateca's history. The objectives of the study consisted of examining the nature of grieta use, spatial and temporal transformations in grieta use, and how practices in the grieta correlated with the historical processes of the dynasty and the Aguateca inhabitants. Grieta Rincón, a smaller chasm at the site, was also subject to investigation. Aguateca, along with Dos Pilas, was one of the twin capitals of the dynasty that ruled the Petexbatun area, and its relatively well-understood brief political history provided a temporal framework with which to contextualize the activities in the grietas. The systematic program of inquiry was based on a three-phase data collection followed by laboratory analysis of the cultural materials: exploration, survey, and mapping; surface collections; and excavations. The grieta map were tied into the surface site map so as to correlate spatial use in the Grieta Principal with structures on the surface site.

This research archaeologically expands the current field's understanding of the definition of a "cave" in Maya religion. The data point to a principal use as a place where ritual practices were performed inside the grieta . It is plausible that the grieta served a focal position in establishing the "sacred landscape" that agreed with a cosmologically significant spatial configuration. More importantly, however, this study focused on elucidating social negotiations revolving around the dynamic production of landscape.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Taube, Karl A.
School: University of California, Riverside
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 68/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Archaeology
Keywords: Aguateca, Classic Maya, Grietas, Guatemala, Peten, Politics, Religion
Publication Number: 3270419
ISBN: 978-0-549-09850-8
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