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Lecture 7

ANTH 1150 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Mesoamerican Chronology, Nymphaeaceae

Course Code
ANTH 1150
Marta Rohatynskyj

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Study Questions for ‘Maya Lords of the Jungle
1. Why was the nineteenth century understanding of ancient Mayan society as made
up of priests who worshiped time and a peasantry who practiced slash and burn
agriculture unsatisfactory?
- Evidence of trading
- Evidence of advanced agriculture
- Evidence of different classes – house size
2. In what five Central American countries are Maya ruins found?
- Mexico
- Guatemala
- Belize
- Honduras
- El Salvador
3. The Classic Period of Maya culture, at Tikal for example, was said to have lasted
from AD300 to AD900. What was the traditional explanation given for the
abandonment of Tikal?
- Maya agriculture could not keep up with the demand of the growing population. It
was originally believed they only used slash and burn agricultural technology.
4. At the northern Yucatan site of Komchen trade goods made of obsidian and
jade were discovered. This led archaeologists to realize that Komchen had been
part of what?
- Long period of continuous growth
- Costal and inland trade before classic period – complex trade system
5. This realization and the discovery of what in Belize through aerial photography,
caused archeologists to view the classic period of Mayan culture differently?
- Use of a much more sophisticated way of agriculture with raised fields in the
swampy areas intersected by canals.
6. What evidence did the archaeologists have that these formations were man made?
- Soil specialists say the limestone found in the fields had to have been brought there
- Artifacts were found dropped into the canals
7. These discoveries led archaeologists to view Mayan society as made up of
different classes and occupational groups than just priests and peasants. What are
some of them?
- Rich merchants
- Poorer merchants
- Politicians
- Elites
- Fisherman
- Potters
- Priests
8. In the northern Maya site of Palenque the water lily and the fish are symbols of
power and authority. Can you explain this symbolism?
- Water lily = separates our world (above water) and the underworld (below the water)
- Lily’s were the basis of agriculture = provide water, feed fish, therefore basis of
power/complex cycle
9. Further discoveries of paintings and other depictions revealed what two sinister
aspects of classical Mayan culture?
- Death rituals for unexplained reasons involving decapitation and other cruel
execution methods
- Smoking/drinking/drugs to receive hallucinations of the gods
10. In what ways are contemporary village rituals similar to those depicted in
representations of classic Mayan life?
- Sacrifice as offering to gods (no longer human sacrifice)
- Much ceremonial drinking to bring closer to gods