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E-GROUPS, PSEUDO–E-GROUPS, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CLASSIC MAYA IDENTITY IN THE EASTERN PETEN

  • Thomas H. Guderjan (a1)
Abstract

The identity of the Classic Maya was expressed through public architecture and the creation of sacred landscape, which incorporated the landscape of creation and the concept of the world tree. Pyramids, plazas, stelae, and ballcourts were important components of this landscape. In the Peten, architectural complexes known as “E-groups” were another component. E-groups are well-known astronomical “orientation calendars” that were first built in the Terminal Preclassic period. Named after Group E at Uaxactun, they consist of three buildings on the east side of a public plaza and a fourth in the middle of the plaza or on the west side. Terminal Preclassic E-groups functioned as solstice and equinox markers. However, their function changed in the Early Classic period, arguably due to influence from Teotihuacan, to a focus on agricultural seasons. In this paper, I argue that pseudo–E-groups were built well into the Late Classic period in the eastern Peten and were a defining architectural complex for the region. The original, functional Terminal Preclassic E-groups were based on ritual activities focused on solar events. By the Early Classic, E-groups had become multipurpose parts of the sacred landscape of public architecture. Late Classic pseudo–E-groups, however, had become nonfunctional for either solar or agriculturally oriented observation. Nevertheless, they had become so deeply embedded into the template of sacred space and architecture that pseudo–E–groups were constructed to reinforce the identity of cities and the validity of their rulers.

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E-mail correspondence to: guderjan@tcu.edu
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Ancient Mesoamerica
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