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Diversity and Divergence of Classic Maya Ritual Traditions: A Lexical Perspective on Within-Group Cultural Variation

Author(s): Jessica Munson ; Jonathan Scholnick ; Matthew Looper ; Yuriy Polyukhovych ; Martha Macri

Year: 2016

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To study the Classic Maya is to at once recognize the shared material representations and practices that give coherence to this cultural category as a unit of analysis, as well as to critically examine the diversity and idiosyncrasy of specific cultural traits. Maya hieroglyphic writing, in particular the tradition of inscribing texts and images on carved stone monuments, offers evidence for widespread and mutually intelligible cultural practices that were neither unchanging nor uniform in their semantic content. As conduits of linguistic and cultural information, Maya hieroglyphic monuments offer detailed records of Classic Maya dynastic history that included the names, dates, and specific rituals performed by elite individuals. In this paper we analyze the distribution and diversity of these inscriptions to examine ritual variation and the divergence of dynastic traditions in Classic Maya society. Diversity indices and methods adapted from population genetics and ecology are applied to quantify the degree of ritual differentiation and evaluate how these measures vary over time and are partitioned within and between elite populations. Results of this research refine our understanding about the variation of Classic Maya ritual traditions and make substantive contributions to examining the population structure of cultural diversity within past complex societies.

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Diversity and Divergence of Classic Maya Ritual Traditions: A Lexical Perspective on Within-Group Cultural Variation. Jessica Munson, Jonathan Scholnick, Matthew Looper, Yuriy Polyukhovych, Martha Macri. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404206)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America