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Did the Maya Build Architectural Cosmograms?

  • Michael E. Smith (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

I criticize recent applications of the “cosmogram” concept to ancient Maya architecture and cities. Although cosmograms—graphic representations of aspects of the cosmos—are known from Late Postclassic and early colonial Aztec and Maya sources, there is no textual suggestion that buildings or cities were viewed as cosmograms. Numerous authors, however, assert confidently that architectural cosmograms abounded in Classic Maya cities. I examine known cosmograms, describe recent studies of architectural cosmograms, and discuss problems that occur when highly speculative interpretations are phrased as confident empirical findings.

Hago una crítica del modelo de “cosmograma” aplicado a la arquitectura y las ciudades mayas. Hay cosmogramas (modelos gráficos de aspectos de la cosmovisión) en las fuentes aztecas y mayas de los periodos Postclásico Tardío y colonial temprano, pero no hay evidencia en textos de que la gente antigua consideraron edificios o ciudades como cosmogramas. Muchos autores, sin embargo, afirman con seguridad que había cosmogramas arquitectónicas en las ciudades mayas. Discuto cosmogramas conocidas, describo estudios recientes de cosmogramas arquitectónicas, y discuto los problemas que ocurren cuando se expresan interpretaciones muy especulativas como resultados empíricos fuertes.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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Wendy Ashmore , and Jeremy A. Sabloff 2002 Spatial Orders in Maya Civic Plans. Latin American Antiquity 13:201215.

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Justine M. Shaw 2001 Maya Sacbeob: Form and Function. Ancient Mesoamerica 12:261272.

Michael E. Smith 2003 Can We Read Cosmology in Ancient Maya City Plans? Comment on Ashmore and Sabloff. Latin American Antiquity 14:221228.

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Walburga Wiesheu 1997 China’s First Cities: The Walled Site of Wangchenggang in the Central Plain Region of North China. In Emergence and Change in Early Urban Societies, edited by Linda Manzanilla, pp. 87105. Plenum, New York.

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Latin American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 1045-6635
  • EISSN: 2325-5080
  • URL: /core/journals/latin-american-antiquity
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