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Classic Maya cities were dynamic places constructed throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent zones during much of the first millennium CE. This chapter examines how Maya cities were understood, used, and altered. Other named features of urban landscapes include pyramids and altars, neither, unfortunately, with fully accepted readings of their glyphic references. Other buildings in the Maya texts correspond to stairways, known as ehb, and ballcourts recorded by glyphs that are not yet deciphered. A notable attribute of later Maya ideas about appropriate or correct behavior is that it conforms to movement and handed-ness. Right and straight correspond closely to concepts of truth, virtue, cleansing, even prophecy. A final, remaining theme is that Maya cities accord with general concepts of landscape features yet also remain a malleable work-in-progress. The view of any such city today would contain a certain arrangement of buildings and spaces in urban armatures.
Advances in hieroglyphic decipherment and in language contact typology provide new data and theories with which to investigate and reassess prior interpretations of Mayan linguistic history. The present study considers the shift from proto-Mayan *k and *k' to /ch/ and /ch'/, a sound change that affected several Mayan languages in different phonological contexts. This sound change, with a very particular set of conditions, has been highlighted as a defining feature of the Cholan-Tseltalan branch of the Mayan language family. New evidence suggests that this sound change was shared as a result of contact around the time of the Classic period, rather than reflecting an inherited sound change that would have taken place at a much earlier stage of the language family. Hieroglyphic data provide further evidence that this sound change was adopted in the hieroglyphic language in a word-by-word fashion, rather than applying to all similar phonological contexts at the same time.
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