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25 - Obligation, Substitution and Order

Ritual Violence among the Ancient Maya

from Part V - Depictions of Violence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Matthew S. Gordon
Affiliation:
University of Miami
Richard W. Kaeuper
Affiliation:
University of Rochester, New York
Harriet Zurndorfer
Affiliation:
Universiteit Leiden
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Summary

This chapter explores the evidence for sacrifice in ancient Mesoamerica bloodletting and other forms of self-inflicted injury, staged combat, animal sacrifice, child sacrifice, and the torture and execution of captives. The discussion integrates evidence from Maya archaeology, bioarchaeology, epigraphy, and iconography. Special attention is given to evidence for ritual violence among the Maya during the Classic period (AD 250-900). Central to the Pre-Columbian Maya worldview was an understanding of personal burden and obligation to one’s fellow humans as well as to the ancestors, gods, and other spirit beings. Humans were forever indebted for the gifts of creation and to the great works of those who came before them. Repayment was required in flesh and blood, either one’s own or that of a suitable substitute, conceptualized in a hierarchy that ordered human the natural and supernatural world.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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