Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya

Volume 1: Theory, Comparison, And Synthesis


Takeshi Inomata; Stephen D. Houston

First Edition • December 1, 2000 • 306 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813336404 • $59.00 USD$52.50 CAN

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The two volumes of Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya provide current archaeological perspectives on Maya courts conceived as vital, functioning social groups composed of lords, courtiers, scribes, priests, and entertainers, among many others. In addition to archaeological data on the architecture and other spatial attributes of courts, the studies in the two volumes bring to bear on the topic the most recent evidence from inscriptions, vase paintings, murals and friezes, and ethnohistoric records in order to flesh out a portrait of the actors and roles that made up Maya courts through time and across space. The attributes of courts are explored in the Maya highlands and lowlands, from the origins of early kingship through the Classic period to the Postclassic and Terminal epochs. Pertinent comparisons are also drawn from the Aztecs and other ancient and contemporary societies. Volume 1: Theory, Comparison, and Synthesis establishes a carefully considered framework for approaching the study of courts and their functions throughout the world of the ancient Maya. Volume 2: Data and Case Studies provides authoritatively current data and insights from key Maya sites, including Copán, Tikal, Caracol, Bonampak, and Calakmul.

Takeshi Inomata is a professor at the University of Arizona. He received a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, and he has currently been conducting archeological fieldwork in the Maya area.

Stephen Houston is a professor at Brigham Young University.

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IN addition to a thorough discussion of the ways in which the elucidation of Maya royal courts can be approached, Inomata and Houston include a comprehensive set of questions that will serve to guide research well beyond the book’s individual contributions.
— Cambridge Archaeological Journal

This is an extremely timely and important contribution to our understanding of ancient Maya society, and will remain an indispensable work for many years to come. Focusing upon the concept of the royal court, this compilation addresses both palace architecture and the various inhabitants who operated within this realm. This work is an excellent merging of cutting edge research and recent archaeological discoveries by some of the leading scholars working in the Maya region. Together, the two volumes incorporate sophisticated theoretical and comparative insights with recent discoveries at major sites, including Tikal, Calakmul, Aguateca, Caracol, and Copan. The scope of this compilation is impressively broad, and extends from the Formative beginnings of palace life to the early colonial period.
— Karl Taube, Professor, Dept of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside

Once regarded by archaeologists as dark, dank, dingy and cramped, the stone ‘palaces’ of the ancient Maya here glow with rich fabrics and pelts, and echo with the speeches and pageants of the royal courtiers who frequented them. Volume 1 sets the stage with a series of fresh visions of Maya court life as revealed through the synthesis of archaeological remains, inscribed glyphic texts, artistic representations, and comparisons with eye-witness accounts from the Aztec in Mexico. Volume 2 details new information about the palatial residences of Maya royal families and nobility, from the origins of the civilization twenty-five centuries ago, through to its final days. The erstwhile cool and creepy courts are now hot, as this excellent collection of papers thrusts them into the spotlight of investigation.
— David Freidel, Professor of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University

Royal Courts of the Ancient Maya opens totally new dimensions in the analysis of Maya royal life. It is must reading for Mesoamericanists and others interested in ancient elite society.
— T. Patrick Culbert, Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona

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