Seats of Power: Functional Sectors in Mesoamerican Palaces

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Power in ancient societies may be displayed in different scales and settings. In some cases economic power involves the concentration of staples, the managing of craft production, or the control of trade routes. Social control may involve the concentration and management of labor for state purposes. Political power is evident in territorial control and state expansion. Symbolic power is often called upon when sanctioning the acts of rulers. Palace structures as seats of power are clear in exclusionary organizations where one dynasty rules a state, but not easy to detect in corporate organizations. Different types of palaces may have been present in ancient complex societies: residential palaces, administrative palaces, and multifunctional palaces. This symposium will explore how archaeologists detect functional sectors within a palatial complex or building in Mesoamerican archaeology.

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  • Documents (10)

  • El Palacio Norte de la Ciudadela, Conjunto 1D, Teotihuacan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ana M. Jarquin. Enrique Martinez.

    Los trabajos de investigación arqueológica en el Palacio Norte de La Ciudadela de Teotihuacan permitieron establecer que dicho recinto fue construido en relación a la consolidación del poder estatal y su autoridad además de su legitimación. Lo anterior en la búsqueda del reconocimiento de la población hacía los funcionarios que representaban un sistema económico, politico, y religioso, como un todo, basado en instituciones estructuradas de manera tal que, regían todos los aspectos de la vida de...

  • Elementos de Prestigio en el Complejo Arquitectónico Quetzalpapálotl, Teotihuacán (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Verónica Ortega.

    El complejo arquitectónico Quetzalpapálotl ocupa un lugar privilegiado en la Plaza de la Luna, en el centro urbano de la antigua Teotihuacán. En recientes años (2009-2013) hemos realizado una investigación enfocada a comprender el uso de los espacios y su posible asociación con la élite teotihuacana, a través del reconocimiento de los elementos de prestigio que diferenciaron a sus ocupantes del resto de los pobladores. En esta ponencia expondremos nuevos datos respecto de la funcionalidad del...

  • Evolution of the Aztec Tecpan Palace (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Susan Toby Evans.

    Sahagún called the Aztec palace a place of wisdom, and in the mature Aztec empire, sages of all kinds gathered in the tecpans and were members of elite families. The power of ruling families was based, in part, on their more sophisticated education, including divination and curing, and palaces as centers of knowledge served their communities. We know this from descriptions of contact-era imperial palaces, and we also know that these impressive places were the products of the evolution of the...

  • Maya Palaces at Aguateca and Ceibal, Guatemala (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Takeshi Inomata.

    Royal palaces at the medium-sized centers of Aguateca and Ceibal appear to represent a basic template for the spatial and functional configurations of Maya palaces. They exhibit simple square forms resembling smaller residential groups of lower status, indicating their primary function as residential complexes of the royal families. Administrative and ceremonial functions were likely merged with domestic ones. These palaces also provide information on the degree of spatial mobility. While the...

  • Maya Palaces: Royal Courts of the Ancient and Not-So-Ancient Maya (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only William J. Folan. Maria del Rosario Dominguez C.. Joel D. Gunn.

    The Palaces of the Peten Campechano and the remainder of the Yucatan Peninsula represent single and composite, royal multipurpose households of varying shapes and sizes often associated with triadic relationships representing religious, civic, and military responsibilities. These relationships are manifest in structures at Calakmul, Oxpemul, Becan, Santa Rosa Xtampak, the triadic Monjas Quadrangle of Uxmal, Structure #385 of Dzibilchaltun, the triad of Noh Cah Chan Santa Cruz, El Palacio de...

  • The Palace Group at Xochicalco, Morelos, México (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Claudia I. Alvarado.

    Xochicalco is a hilltop site located in the mountain range of the western part of the modern Mexican state of Morelos. Archaeological investigations carried out in the upper part of the site between 1994 and 2009 have provided several breakthroughs in our understanding of one of the most representative sites of the Epiclassic period in Mesoamerica. The site’s major building complex, known as the Acropolis, is situated on the very top of the hill. Covering approximately a hectare, this group...

  • Palaces at La Joya, Classic Period Central Veracruz: Architectural and Ideological Evidence (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Annick J. E. Daneels.

    La Joya was the capital of a very small state during the 1st millennium AD in South Central Veracruz. This region is rarely associated with major political power, though obviously it was of high prestige in the Mesoamerican world in terms of the distribution of the paraphernalia associated with the ballgame ritual. Two contemporary monumental platforms at the site can be interpreted as palaces, with administrative, residential, ritual, and service areas, one possibly housing a political and the...

  • Power and Settlement in Prehispanic and Early Spanish Colonial Yucundaa-Pueblo Viejo de Teposcolula, Oaxaca (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ronald Spores. Laura Diego Luna.

    Yucundaa-Pueblo Viejo de Teposcolula, Oaxaca, Mexico, is the urban capital and power center of a Prehispanic and Early Colonial Mixtec state, occupying four square kilometers from AD 1000 to 1550. This research utilizes a convergent archaeological, ethnohistoric, and biological methodology, and focuses on the evolution and transformation of the city and its surroundings until the time of its relocation to the adjacent lowlands in 1550. Of particular concern was identification and analysis of...

  • Spatial Roles in Cacaxtla: A Delineation from the Study of Its Architecture (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Genevieve Lucet.

    The archaeological site of Cacaxtla, in the central highlands of Mexico, had its heyday during the Mesoamerican Epiclassic period. Its architectural characteristics define it as a place for residential and government activities, in contrast with the neighboring hill Xochitecatl, where constructions typify ritual purposes. Excavations were not accompanied by scientific studies of materials for the understanding of functions of rooms, porches, and courtyards that make up the site. Therefore, it is...

  • Xalla, Teotihuacan: A Multifunctional Palace for the Ruling Elite of Teotihuacan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Linda R. Manzanilla.

    In corporate societies such as Teotihuacan, it is not easy to detect the places where the ruling elite dwelt, made decisions, managed goods and labor, or participated in cult activities. Teotihuacan is very different from the Maya urban sites: no royal tomb has been found, rulers are not depicted or easily recognized. The corporate organization may have permeated the ruling elite, where a possible council of lords may have headed the Teotihuacan state. Xalla, with a surface of ca. 50,000 m2, is...