Mayan Culture Notes

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University of Colorado - Boulder
ANTH 1140
Inga Calvin

4 Subfields of Anthropology Archaeology (Past cultures) Cultural (Living cultures Biological or Physical (reading bones) Linguistics (Sometimes not counted) Franz Boaz -Father of American Anthropology Cultural Relativism Looking at a culture w/out putting your cultural perspectives on it. Video Notes Rebecca Storey- Studied Kopan, physical anthropologist From Houston with Dave Whitmer Kopan had egalitarian burials, and likely the whole society WilliamSanders- Papua New Guinea Kabolga Tribe Look at living cultures to understand past ones- Ethnographic Analogy Onka- Big man. Rima- Rival. Moka- gift, usually of pigs (CU Archaeologist) -CEREN Diagnostics of Preclassic Maya E Group architecture Mammiform Tetrapod pottery (4 legs, boob shaped) Basal Flange Lidded Vessels (2D to 3D) Usually human head inside Cache Vessels (Held Bones) Greenstone Celts Stucco Masks on buildings Hero Twins (Highlands ONLY) Triadic Groups Mushroom Stones Potbelly figures Stelae 600 BC- 1695 AD Lived in Mesoamerica No large draft animals were domesticated. All transportation of goods was done on foot or boat. Chihuahuas and turkeys were only domesticated protein source. Stone Age Civilization Greenstone was most valuable mineral Symbolizes wealth, power, and agricultural fertility. “Yax” means both blue and green, color of growth Autosacrifice reciprocity (You do something for me, I’ll do something for you) Believed that humans used to be made from dirt, then wood, then corn, then the gods gave them blood. Giving blood back was the highest honor. Used reservoirs and aqueducts. Environments and Resources Southern (Pacific Coast) Very swampy and humid Full of Saurians (Hides worn as sign of power, also represented the world.) Endangered Green Sea Turtle (Used to meat, shell used as instrument.) Egrets (Prized for their feathers) Mangrove (Canoes) and Amate (made into paper) trees. Cacao (luxury good) Highlands Volcanoes (Believed the gods lived inside them) Flint and chert (Used for knives, arrowheads, and eccentric flint) Obsidian (Used for blades, sharpest in existence) Can be sourced to certain volcano(Chemical makeup) and dated (Obsidian hydration, thickness of rind.) Basalt (Used for mano, handstone, and metate, corn grindstone. -ground corn after soaking in limestone to get more nutrition out of it. Greenstone Motagua jade (most valued) Rio Usumacinta(fast) and Rio Motagua(slow) Used to move stone and as trade routes. Valuable birds Quetzal (Symbol of Guatemala, tail feathers used in headdresses) Parrots Macaw (Used for military outfits) Spirit animals Believed that animals are born with you, embody your personality, bonded, if things happen to you they happen to the animal Harpy eagle, mountain lion, hummingbird (fierce) Bats- powerful, believed to travel to supernatural world. Deer- Willing sacrifice, deerskin worn by sacrificial volunteers. Southern Maya Lowlands Rainforest Limestone hills, Very thin layer of soil on top. Bajos (Swamps) turned into artificial gardens or aguadas (reservoirs) due to lack of rivers Rubber trees Harvest like maple sap, used to make rubber things or to line reservoirs Chicle, similar to rubber tree Ramon Nut High in protein and calories, but very bitter. “Famine Food” Ceiba Tree Largest tree in rainforest Spiritually significant, spiritually center of city Roots reached into underworld, canopy in heavens, trunk in our world. Animals Ocellated Turkey(Partially domesticated for food. Cotinga bird Toucan (Used for feathers and beak used for container) Spider monkey and howler monkey Pizote- tropical racoon, very smart Jaguar: king of jungle, spiritual animal of kings, they would wear pelt Symbol for sun, Black ones were jaguars of the night Rattlesnake, Boa, Fer-de-lance Water Lilies, can be hallucinogenic Bufo Marinus (Toad) oozes hallucinogenic goo. Northern Maya Lowlands Flat limestone shelf Underground Rivers, Limestone would collapse creating “Cenotes” In droughts, sacrifices would be thrown into Cenotes Scrub brush, few trees Cotton and Henequen (Yucca plant, used for sandals, rope, baskets) Animals: Bushmaster (Snake) Flamingo Armadillo Parrot Fish Stingray (Spine used for sacrifice) Shark (Xoc) Mayan Buildings -Center of cities were clusters of important buildings (Temples, rich homes) Modest (see: poor) homes scattered in between and around Smaller centers of lesser important buildings scattered around Homes: Huts with raised floors to get off forest soil, five 5-10 people -In clusters facing each other, small family like community Mayan Farming Used variety; different crops and different planting techniques to suit the varied forest soil. Slash and Burn (Swidden Farming): Chop down forest and burn, ash provides fertile soil, but must be left alone after a few years and left fallow for 4-7 years (Disadvantage). Terracing: Piling stones to create terraces that prevent erosion. High yield and labor cost Raised Fields (Chinampas): Parts of swamps raised with canals in between. Very fertile, fishing in canals. Required high labor costs. Produced Arthrospira algae Garden Plots Beekeeping Paleo-Indians Beringia- Land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. People migrated down the west coast, others migrated down east. 5 major migrations Clovis Points- Spearpoints attached to end of pole Pleistocene Megafauna 25,000- 10,000 years ago Mammoths, Giant sloths, Giant bears, Mastodon, Sabre-toothed cats, Glyptodon Bison Antiquus Antiquus (Ancestor of Ralphie) FolsomPoint- Smaller than clovis, aerodynamic and put on end of atlatl to be thrown tribes would chase bison off cliffs, only harvested parts they wanted. Hunters/Gathereres Tribes/bands 20 or so people Egalitarian, everyone had equal access to resources Achieved leadership 9000-4000 BC, gradual transition to... Chiefdoms or Small Communities 200 or so people Sedentary, Farmers Hierarchical Ascribed leadership Gatherers brought in most food -Nopal and Agave Agave turns into Nexcal when rotted, which is made into tequila Teosinte (Maize) Domesticated, people got rid of smaller plants, the bigger ones thrived and turned into maize. Intercropping- Planting many crops in one field Planted squash and beans with corn to keep nutrients in soil Domesticated and Native to Mesoamerica: Maize, Agave,Chili, Avocado, Tomato Bands->Tribes->Chiefdoms->States->Empires States can demand taxes, They have rules and laws In tribes you have blood feuds, in states you go to jail. States have a standing military. When states control multi-ethnic, multi-cultural groups they become empires. Soconusco, Chiapas was the first shift to state 5500 BC, Cerro de las Conchas Clam bake, layers of clam shells OptimumForaging Strategy- Planned moving around to take advantage of foraging area. 1700 BC, Sedentism(Staying put) -Due to agriculture Began to increase in population -Began making more complex art -PrettyLadies- fertility figurines -Barra Phase Ceramics 1600 BC (Early for such sophisticated work) First pottery on coast, yet flawless Someone must have introduced pottery 1400 BC- Paso de la Amada First communal building (Basketball Court) Mound 6- Largest building on the coast at the time 72 ft long Burials underneath house Reinforces ownership of house Cranial Deformation Mold babies’ heads with planks Mostly for wealthy, signals high social status Proves ascribed leadership since it was done to infants, before achieving ***ASSOCIATED WITH PEOPLE WITH BETTER DIETS, SHOWS STATUS** The Olmec of Veracruz and Tabasco Mesoamerica’s first state Land of Mud Olmec= Rubber people Oil Rich land, slow moving rivers Abundant with Bitumen(Asphalt) -Valuable for it’s adhesive and water sealing properties Olmec believed that the Earth was a giant crocodile, the spines were hills etc Animism- Belief that everything is alive and has a soul Manioc, also known as yuca or cassava. Highly nutritious tuber San Lorenzo, Veracruz 1300-900 BC Stone architecture, had to be imported to site from the tuxtla mountains Pre-planned community Saurian drainage spouts, means the city was the center of the world. Giant Stone Heads -Depict Kings, all have cranial deformation Head of an entire state, a polity People from all over the state came and paid taxes in labor Cached Objects (Intentionally buried as gifts to gods) El Manatee Springs First rubber ball found, 25 lbs Greenstone Celts Sacred Numbers: 3, 4 (Corners of universe), 5 (4 Corners plus center), 9, 13 La Venta Tabasco 900-400 BC Earliest site with a true pyramid. Oriented along a single axis Hierophany- Construction of Sacred place to conform to celestial phenomena. Either Equinox (Sun in Center of Sky, Mar and Sep 21) Or Solstice (Longest day/night, Dec and June 21) 4 Stone heads 100 tons of greenstone buried in the ground in 5 different sites in Quincunx formation -Quincunx- 4 corners and center Monument 7 (Tomb A) Basalt columns 2 young men inside surrounded by elite offerings Concave Hematite Mirror around necks Makes thing upside down and backwards, likely used to ‘look into other world’ Greenstone scepter at groin, shows they were bloodletters. Offering 4 6 Greenstone celts standing up with 15 greenstone and one basalt figurines. 30 Feet down Someone dug down and reburied them, evidenced by different sand. Dug exactly where they were, suggests a map of offerings exists Altar 4 La Venta, Tabasco Carved limestone bench for kings Chalcatzingo, Morelos Monument 9 Cave entrance from booklet Petroglyph 1 Carving in cliffside, from booklet Upon king’s death, his throne is made into a giant head of him. Ch’ulel - Soul Stela/Stelae -Upright stone (4-20 feet) with images or words carved into them Hieroglyphic writing Expanded trade routes to gather materials, spread Olmec culture in process Las Bocas, Pueblo Olmec influences, dragons on artwork Chalchuapa, El Salvador Southernmost Omec influence Ballgame paraphernalia Copan, Honduras Stone heads found ONLY in heartlands Preclassic Highlands Maya 900 BC (Time of first Olmec State) Caused a ripple effect and cities began to pop up La Blanca, Guatemala Biggest city of the time Monument 3 6 ft clay object, Quincunx Shape in plaza of high class area Forms troughs that lead to center Sacrifices’ blood would flow and pool in center, making massive ‘portal’ Takalik Abaj, Guatemala 800-300 BC 10 Terraces of city, 50,000 people Water Management Many Stelae and Altars Recorded historyof RULERS and KINGS Poor pottery, TONS on manos and metates Terraces may be defensive, indicates warfare Buildings made out of river boulders and painted with hematite. Royal Burial in pyramid. Man of 45 found surrounded by obsidian and shells Trade with shore villages Glyph “Agaw” on his clothes, means “lord” Signs of Olmec Interaction Saurian carving, niche w/ person coming out, like altar 4 Potbellies- big bellied statues, vague appearances. Fat God- fat stone figures, not rulers Izapa, Mexico More stelae and altars than any other Preclassic Maya site Emphasizes the Hero Twins stories rather than rulers Story on D2L Popal Vuh- written 1550 AD by K’iche’ Maya (Dominant group) Written in Spanish, sent to Spain to prove ownership of land Kaminaljuyu Terraced City AV. Kidder- Carnegie Institute William Sanders- Pennsylvania State Marion Popenoe de Hatch- Universidad de Valle All made of adobe Contrary to limestone El Chayal Obsidian From nearby volcano, exported it and grew wealthy. Incense Burners Stirrup Spout Vessels Used for drinking Cacao Monuments 9 &10 Popal Vuh Imagery Stela 11 Emphasizes the Rulers AS the Hero Twins Rulers are now divine beings MushroomStones PotbellyFigures Usulutan Pottery First seen in Chalchuapa Wax is applied in a design before being dipped in pigment Ilopango Volcano erupts 300AD Cuts off highland trade routes, cities wither. Preclassic Maya Lowlands Cuello, Belize 1000-4000 BC Norman Hammond Plazuela Group Houses arranged around a plaza Buried dead in Buildings, still interacted with them and made offerings to them Patrilineal and Patrilocal -Lineage from father’s side, bride moved in with husband and his family. Extended families all lived together Cerros, Belize D. Freidel Stucco mask Facade El Mirador, Guatemala -Richard Hansen -Largest Maya City Ever Buildings made of Limestone covered with plaster and painted red with hematite or cinnabar Danta Group -Largest pyramid, Half a mile from side to side Triadic Group on top 3 pyramids in triangle Sacbe- White roads, connected cities miles away Kaan- serpent glyph, marked El Mirador as the serpent state. Nakbe, Guatemala Evidence of Cranial modifications and dental implants -Holes drilled into teeth and filled with Jade Organized Labor Tikal, Guatemala William Coe Radial Pyramid- Perfect square, stairs on all 4 sides. Dennis Puleston -Chultuns Reflects private ownership of crops, filled with ramone nuts Royal Necropolis (City of the Dead) Maya Corbel Vault Very thick walls with very narrow spaces in between. Stucco Masks, Apron molding. -Little ‘Skirt” in buildings Tikal and El Mirador surrounded by ‘Moat and Palisade system” Evidence of War Ajaw- means speaker (to gods), a leader Uaxactun, Guatemala E Group Architecture From Structure E-VII Sub Three buildings across from pyramid, King “raised” sun More in Blue Packet Teotihuacan Lake Texcoco Access to Pachuca Obsidian (Diagnostic) -Only green obsidian First empire in Mesoamerica Abandoned by 700AD Aztec moved in 1300 AD. saw empty buildings and assumed gods lived there Leopold Batres, WilliamSanders, S. Sugiyama, R. Cabrera Street of the Dead Pyramids and site oriented to street 15.5degrees east of north-allignment Pyramid of the Sun Architecturally designed to make people feel small and insignificant Located over a 5-lobed cave “Cave of Emergence” Myth June 21- Sun rises directly over the pyramid, no shadows in town Largest hierophany in existence Pleiader- 7 brightest stars rise over temple Temple of the Feathered Serpent Talud-Tablero (DIAGNOSTIC) style Offering on each corner Trenches on sides containing 9 sacrifices each Young men dressed as warriors, back bustle mirrors Necklaces made from human and canine maxillae StrontiumIsotope Analysis Can tell where someone grew up and died. Half of sacrifices from valley, half from guatemala Maxillae from old men from valley who refused to move. Mass grave(20) in center of temple rather than a king. Obsidian, greenstone, and sea shells Cuidadela- Enclosure around temple, 38 acres 350 AD- Tunneled in antiquity, tunnel collapsed and entrance sealed. Also at this time, building put in front of temple and temple covered in dirt May have been to check contents Workshops built next to temple Mass produce “Mold Made adornos” Assembled into Incenarios Host Figures- Hollow figures with people inside Pyramid of the Moon Cerro Gordo- Giant hill behind pyramid, would get covered up as you walk Massive burials for each stage of construction Burial 2- Wild animals along with a human, buried alive. Burial 5- Guatemalan Kings, 3 each swaddled and on jaguar pillow Next to largest obsidian distribution center. Barrios- Neighborhood Apartment complexes Extended families, would have to move away when family got too big Broke up family bond, created neighborhood bond Imagery on walls has to do with warfare Tlaloc- Storm God (Diagnostic of Teo.) Thin Orange Potteryand Slab footed stucco cov
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