The Poetics and Politics of Acoustics at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Author(s): Cynthia Kristan-Graham

Year: 2018


An archaeology of the senses expands the understanding of physical, tangible aspects of place to include qualities that are unseen, silent, or otherwise not readily perceptible. My paper analyzes acoustics at the late Maya capital of Chichen Itza. Sound—especially the human voice, animals, music, ritual, and dancing—were part of Chichen Itza’s atmosphere. An analysis of soundscapes, along with the intersection of architecture, planning, and acoustics, augments what is known about the site’s settlement, rituals, epigraphy, and imagery. For example, sounds could be heard in only a part of this large site. Consequently, sound at ground level and inside or atop buildings can be understood as limited resources available to different audiences and sectors of the site. Using digital archaeology to plot soundscapes, I consider how acoustics may have influenced the site plan; how acoustics may have embodied political and social concerns; and how Maya notions about sound expand an understanding of Maya places.

Cite this Record

The Poetics and Politics of Acoustics at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Cynthia Kristan-Graham. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442666)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21447