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Gamez Diaz, Laura (2013) COSMOLOGY AND SOCIETY: HOUSEHOLD RITUAL AMONG THE TERMINAL CLASSIC MAYA PEOPLE OF YAXHA (ca. A.D. 850-950), GUATEMALA. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study of domestic ritual and symbolism centers on the ancient Maya kingdom of Yaxha in northeastern Guatemala, during the last part of the Classic period (A.D. 850-950/1000). Classic Maya high-culture functioned within a dynastic cosmology that framed royalty’s power. The central question in this dissertation is ‘how did the non-royal population participate and interact with this dynastic cosmology?’
Exploring some possible ways in which ancient Yaxhaeans participated and interacted with the local dynastic cosmology, I have hypothesized three possible behaviors derived from ethnographic studies: active engagement, resistance, and passive compliance. A comparative study of ritual practices and symbolism in ten residences of different social ranks provides the grounds for the discussion. This sample of residences includes the royal palace, a noble palace, two high-end commoner residences, and six low-end commoner residences. While the data from the eight commoner residences was obtained through original research, the information from the royal and noble palaces was recovered from previous research and salvage archaeology projects at Yaxha. The same ritual and symbolic aspects were investigated: symbolism in architectural layouts, ritual feasting, funerary rituals, dedication and termination rituals, and ritual paraphernalia.
I have concluded that while nobles and high-end commoners were actively engaged with the ruling dynastic cosmology, low-end commoners were more reluctant. A certain degree of disconnection in the ritual practices of the higher and lower ranks has been detected, suggesting that low-end commoners might have been more passively compliant than actively engaged with the ruling cosmology. No evidence for overt resistance has been found. Although passive compliance is not a behavior usually associated with social change, ethnographic observations suggest that as a form of passive resistance, it might be a symptom of social unrest.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gamez Diaz, Laurallg17@pitt.eduLLG17
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee Chairde Montmollin, Olivieroly@pitt.eduOLY
Committee MemberDrennan, Robertdrennan@pitt.eduDRENNAN
Committee MemberBermann, Marcbermarc@pitt.eduBERMARC
Committee MemberPutnam, Laralep12@pitt.eduLEP12
Date: 8 October 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2013
Approval Date: 8 October 2013
Submission Date: 20 May 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 255
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Household ritual, Yaxha, Classic Maya, Dynastic Cosmology, Social Organization, Resistance
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2013 21:49
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:12


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