This volume illuminates human lifeways in the northern Maya lowlands prior to the rise of Chichen Itza. This period and area have been poorly understood on their own terms, obscured by scholarly focus on the central lowland Maya kingdoms. Before Kukulkan is anchored in three decades of interdisciplinary research at the Classic Maya capital of Yaxuna, located at a contentious crossroads of the northern Maya lowlands.
Using bioarchaeology, mortuary archaeology, and culturally sensitive mainstream archaeology, the authors create an in-depth regional understanding while also laying out broader ways of learning about the Maya past. Part one examines ancient lifeways among the Maya at Yaxuna, while part two explores different meanings of dying and cycling at the settlement and beyond-ancestral practices, royal entombment and desecration, and human sacrifice. The authors close with a discussion of the last years of occupation at Yaxuna and the role of Chichen Itza in the abandonment of this urban center.
Before Kukulkan provides a cohesive synthesis of the evolving roles and collective identities of locals and foreigners at the settlement and their involvement in the region's trajectory. Theoretically informed and contextualized discussions offer unique glimpses of everyday life and death in the socially fluid Maya city. These findings, in conjunction with other documented series of skeletal remains from this region, provide a nuanced picture of the social and biocultural dynamics that operated successfully for centuries before the arrival of the Itza.
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Vera Tiesler is a research professor for the College of Anthropological Sciences at the Autonomous University of Yucatan. She is the co-editor of Janaab' Pakal of Palenque: Reconstructing the Life and Death of a Maya Ruler and New Perspectives on Human Sacrifice and Ritual Body Treatments in Ancient Maya Society, and author of The Bioarchaeology of Artificial Cranial Modification: New Approaches to Head Shaping and Its Meanings in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and Beyond.
Andrea Cucina is an associate professor at the Autonomous University of Yucatan. He is the co-editor of Janaab' Pakal of Palenque: Reconstructing the Life and Death of a Maya Ruler and New Perspectives on Human Sacrifice and Ritual Body Treatments in Ancient Maya Society.
Travis W. Stanton is an associate professor and department chair at the University of California, Riverside, where he co-directs the PIPCY project currently ongoing at the site of Yaxuna. He is co-editor of Ruins of the Past: The Use and Perception of Abandoned Structures in the Maya Lowlands and Ancient Mesoamerican Warfare.
David A. Freidel is a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. He was the principal investigator of the Selz Foundation Yaxuna Project.
Provides solid bioarchaeological evidence and modern laboratory analysis to improve our understanding of Classic Maya migration, diet, health, and social identity." - Joel Palka, author of Unconquered Lacandon Maya "With its highly detailed and technical analysis of the skeletal remains from Yaxuna, this pioneering volume will illuminate new paths for future Maya research." - Walter R. T. Witschey, editor of Encyclopedia of the Ancient Maya
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