University Press of Colorado

Mesoamerican Worlds Series

Davíd Carrasco, Harvard University, and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, El Colegio Nacional, Mexico, Series General Editors

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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Mesoamerican Worlds Series

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Networks of Power

Political Relations in the Late Postclassic Naco Valley

By Patricia Urban and Edward Schortman

Little is known about how Late Postclassic populations in southeast Mesoamerica organized their political relations. Networks of Power fills gaps in the knowledge of this little-studied area, reconstructing the course of political history in the Naco Valley from the fourteenth through early sixteenth centuries. Describing the material and behavioral patterns pertaining to the Late Postclassic period using components of three settlements in the Naco Valley of northwestern Honduras, the book focuses on how contests for power shaped political structures. Power-seeking individuals, including but not restricted to ruling elites, depended on networks of allies to support their political objectives. Ongoing and partially successful competitions waged within networks led to the incorporation of exotic ideas and imported items into the daily practices of all Naco Valley occupants. The result was a fragile hierarchical structure forever vulnerable to the initiatives of agents operating on local and distant stages. Networks of Power describes who was involved in these competitions and in which networks they participated; what resources were mustered within these webs; which projects were fueled by these assets; and how, and to what extent, they contributed to the achievement of political aims.

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Origins of the Ñuu

Archaeology in the Mixteca Alta, Mexico

By Stephen A. Kowalewski, Andrew K. Balkansky, Laura R. Stiver Walsh, Thomas J. Pluckhahn, John F. Chamblee, Verónica Pérez Rodríguez, Vernice Y. Heredia Espinoza, and Charlotte A. Smith

"This volume is a major contribution to Mesoamerican archaeology that every scholar will want to read for the vital information it provides on regional state development and population integretion. It will be used and referenced by generations of archaeologists interested in cultural development in the Mixteca Alta and its broader role in the emergence of economic and religious institutions throughout Mesoamerica." —Kenneth Hirth, Journal of Anthropological Research

Combining older findings with new data on 1,000 previously undescribed archaeological sites, Origins of the Ñuu presents the cultural evolution of the Mixteca Alta in an up-to-date chronological framework. The ñuu - the kingdoms of the famous Mixtec codices - are traced back through the Postclassic and Classic periods to their beginnings in the first states of the Terminal Formative, revealing their origin, evolution, and persistence through two cycles of growth and collapse. Challenging assumptions that the Mixtec were peripheral to better-known peoples such as the Aztecs or Maya, the book asserts that the ñuu were a major demographic and economic power in their own right. Older explanations of multiregional or macroregional systems often portrayed civilizations as rising in a cradle or hearth and spreading outward. New macroregional studies show that civilizations are products of more complex interactions between regions, in which peripheries are not simply shaped by cores but by their interactions with multiple societies at varying distances from major centers. Origins of the Ñuu is a significant contribution to this emerging area of archaeological research

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Ruins of the Past

The Use and Perception of Abandoned Structures in the Maya Lowlands

Edited by Travis W. Stanton and Aline Magnoni, Foreword by Wendy Ashmore, Afterword by Denise Brown

"All human societies are built on the stones and ashes of those that came before them, and all people construct their ideas of lived-space in relationship to that past. . . . The editors grasp this concept and have brought together a remarkable group to discuss the ways in which architecture is used and re-used over time, and to speculate on how the re-users perceived the monuments of their past."—Keith Prufer, University of New Mexico

"The various authors present rich case studies that demonstrate ancient Maya people deliberately killed certain structures, re-used only select structures, and performed ceremonies of remembering and forgetting. . . . A compelling body of work that will make a significant impact."—Traci Ardren, University of Miami

From the Preclassic to the present, Maya peoples have continuously built, altered, abandoned, and re-used structures, imbuing them with new meanings at each transformation. Ruins of the Past is the first volume to focus on how previously built structures in the Maya Lowlands were used and perceived by later peoples, exploring the topic through concepts of landscape, place, and memory. The collection, as Wendy Ashmore points out in her foreword, offers "a stimulating, productive, and fresh set of inferences about ancient Maya cognition of their own past."

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Skywatching in the Ancient World

New Perspectives in Cultural Astronomy

Edited by Clive Ruggles and Gary Urton

"With its stunning array of diverse approaches, from the Maya Dresden Codex to Hawaiian astronomy to the alignment of Medieval English churches . . . this volume presents a series of important articles written by eminent scholars in the field of cultural astronomy. In terms of edited volumes, it is the most important contribution to the field in recent memory."—Grant Aylesworth, University of New Brunswick

Compiled in honor of Anthony F. Aveni, America's leading archaeoastronomer, Skywatching in the Ancient World offers state-of-the-art work in cultural astronomy by well-known experts in Mayan glyphic studies, cultural history, ethnohistory, and the history of science and of religions. This collection's wide range of outstanding scholarship reveals that cultural astronomy has come into its own. The diverse topics addressed by the contributors include the correlation between Colonial Northern Zapotec and Gregorian calendars, the period of use of the Dresden Codex Venus table and the significance of the Lunar Almanacs that precede it, a new interpretation of an Inka tapestry mantle as a commemorative calendar, temple orientations in Hawai'i and church orientations in Medieval England, and the connection in cultural imagery between astronomers (science) and wizards (magic).

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The Sun God and the Savior

The Christianization of the Nahua and Totonac in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico

By Guy Stresser-Péan, Foreword by Alfredo L

"As an anthropologist, I stand in complete awe of what Stresser-Péan has accomplished in this book. It is classical ethnographic research at its very best....It is truly one of the finest pieces of work I have had the privilege to read, and it is without doubt the result of a lifetime of devotion."—Robert Danielson, Missiology

The first English translation of Guy Stresser-Péan's tour-de-force presents two decades of fieldwork in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico, where native pre-Hispanic pagan beliefs blended with traditional Catholic evangelization from the sixteenth century and the more recent intrusion of modernism. The Indians of the Sierra Norte de Puebla are deeply devoted to Christianity, but their devotion is seamlessly combined with pagan customs, resulting in a hybrid belief system that is not wholly indigenous, yet not wholly Christian. The syncretism practiced here has led the Totonac and Nahua people to identify Christ with the Sun God, a belief expressed symbolically in ritual practices such as the Dance of the Voladores. Spanning the four centuries from the earliest systematic campaign against Nahua ritual practices - Zumárraga's idolatry trials of 1536-1540 - to the twentieth century, Stresser-Péan contextualizes Nahua and Totonac ritual practices as a series of responses to Christian evangelization and the social reproduction of traditional ritual practices. The Sun-God and the Savior is a monumental work on the ethnographic and historical knowledge of the peoples of the Sierra Norte.

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Sweeping the Way

Divine Transformation in the Aztec Festival of Ochpaniztli

By Catherine DiCesare

Incorporation human sacrifice, flaying, and mock warfare, the pre-Columbian Mexican ceremony known as Ochpaniztli, or "Sweeping," has long attracted attention. Although among the best known of eighteen annual Aztec ceremonies, Ochpaniztli's significance has nevertheless been poorly understood. Ochpaniztli is known mainly from early colonial illustrated manuscripts produced in cross-cultural collaboration between Spanish missionary-chroniclers and native Mexican informants Although scholars typically privilege the manuscripts' textual descriptions, Sweeping the Way examines the fundamental role of their pictorial elements, which significantly expand the information contained in the texts. DiCesare emphasizes the primacy of the regalia, ritual implements, and adornments of the festival patroness as the point of intersection between sacred cosmic forces and ceremonial celebrants. The associations of these paraphernalia indicate that Ochpaniztli was a period of purification rituals designed to transform and protect individual and communal bodies alike. Spanish friars were unable to comprehend the complex nature of the festival's patroness, ultimately fragmenting her identity into categories meeting their expectations, which continues to vex modern investigations. Sweeping the Way addresses myriad issues of translation and transformation in pre-Columbian and post-conquest Mexico, as Christian friars and native Mexicans together negotiated a complex body of information about outlawed ritual practices and proscribed sacred entities.

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