Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 November 2014
There is a growing recognition that ancient cultures actively reworked their own pasts (and thus their futures) by reusing and modifying relics and ruined buildings. In the Maya area, architectural ruins of the Pre-Columbian past are often considered as isolated from major centres or as subsumed by new architectural constructions. In contrast, this article examines recent survey and excavations from the North-central sector of Tayasal, Guatemala, where I document the ways in which common peoples from a Terminal Classic (c. ad 800–900/950) neighbourhood lived amongst the ruins of a Late Preclassic monumental past (c. 300 bc–ad 300). Conceptions of such ruins are explored through both (1) a long-term, structural pattern of temple-pyramids seen as metaphors of mountains, and (2) the lens of everyday practices, in which the social lives of common people and ruins become entangled through quotidian activities. Taken together, the article highlights the dynamism of enduring structural patterns. These patterns both challenge dualistic divides of wilderness and urban settings and reveal ancient Maya urban landscapes as places of mixed temporalities.
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