There’s No Place Like Otot: The Domestic Architecture of the Maya in Their Own Words

Author(s): Alyce De Carteret

Year: 2016


The construction of the home (‘otot’ in the language of the Classic Maya inscriptions) is one of the most important and meaning-laden events in Maya communities modern and ancient alike. In the Maya world, culturally-contingent notions of propriety, order, and moral rectitude guide each stage of housebuilding, including the procurement of materials, the organization of labor, and the actual act of construction itself. Additionally, houses must be properly consecrated before they can be inhabited. In this process, entire communities unite to collaborate in what is seen as an act of world-making in which the universe is built anew with the house as its epicenter. This paper will examine housebuilding and the stages, materials, and people involved therein from a linguistic perspective that situates archaeological and ethnographic data within the language the Maya themselves use to describe the process. With the ultimate aim of providing cultural context for archaeological remains, the paper will present the results from a thorough review of Mayan language dictionaries and other colonial documents located in the holdings of the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island, as well as textual references to architecture in the ancient inscriptions.

Cite this Record

There’s No Place Like Otot: The Domestic Architecture of the Maya in Their Own Words. Alyce De Carteret. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405221)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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