Classic Maya temples, politics, and the voice of the people

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Temples provide sanctuary, a home for the gods, a place to worship, a stage for ceremonies, a depository for offerings, and a place to redistribute goods. Finally, temples provide an arena for political competition. The role of Maya temples, however, is not so clear. Inscriptions, when present, detail who built some temples, but not if nonroyals built them, if they were built for specific gods, and why the Maya built so many. The presence of several temples in any given center might indicate that various groups built them and that they served as arenas to compete for status, prestige, and power. If this were the case, then people may have had a choice at which temple to worship and support. To explore the politics of temple construction, I compare temple size, location, construction patterns, and ritual deposits at temples at the secondary center of Yalbac, Central Belize. Preliminary results from temple looters' trenches have exciting implications regarding temple histories in the southern Maya Lowlands during the Late Classic period (ca. A.D. 550-850).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-427
Number of pages21
JournalLatin American Antiquity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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