Sharer, Robert J.. The ancient Maya

Table of Contents

Publication Information


1 The Setting

Natural And Cultural Subdivisions Of The Maya Area

The Pacific Coastal Plain And Piedmont

The Highlands

The Volcanic, Or Southern, Highlands

The Metamorphic, Or Northern, Highlands

The Pattern Of Power In The Highlands

The Lowlands

The Transitional, Or Southern, Lowlands

The Peten, Or Central Lowlands

The Yucatecan, Or Northern, Lowlands

The Pattern Of Power In The Lowlands

2 The Origins Of Maya Civilization

The Chronological Framework

The Developmental Stages Of Maya Civilization

The Origins Of Highland And Coastal Cultural Traditions

Preclassic Antecedents And Contemporaries

Factors Underlying The Rise Of Maya Civilization

Ecological Adaptation

Temporal And Spatial Diversity

The Unity Of The Elite Subculture

Networks Of Interaction

Competition And Conflict

Ideology And Cosmology

3 The Preclassic Maya

The Emergence Of Complex Societies In The Maya Area

The Pacific Coastal Plain In The Middle Preclassic

The Highlands In The Middle Preclassic

The Salama Valley

The Lowlands In The Middle Preclassic


Late Preclassic Maya Civilization And The Origins Of Writing

The Late Preclassic Mixe-zoquean Tradition


The Southern Maya In The Late Preclassic



Abaj Takalik

Other Southern Maya Sites In The Late Preclassic

Highland-lowland Interaction In The Preclassic

The Central Lowlands In The Late Preclassic

El Mirador


The Style Of Power In Late Preclassic Maya Civilization

The Northern Lowlands In The Late Preclassic


The Protoclassic And The Decline Of The Southern Maya

Summary: Reconstructing The Maya Preclassic

4 The Early Classic And The Rise Of Tikal

The Emergence Of States In The Maya Area

Competition And Warfare In The Maya Area

The Protoclassic As Transition To The Classic

The Southern Maya Area In The Classic

The Lowlands In The Early Classic


Tikal As A Major Power In The Early Classic

Some Neighboring Centers In The Central Lowlands


Tikal Consolidates Its Position

Some Other Centers In The Central Lowlands

Río Azul





The Successors Of Stormy Sky At Tikal

The Basis Of Tikal's Power In The Early Classic

The Middle Classic “hiatus” And The Decline Of Tikal

5 The Late Classic And The Expansion Of The Lowland States

The New Order In The Late Classic


The Decline Of Tikal And The Rise Of The New Polities

Further Caracol Conflicts

The Rise Of The Petexbatun

The Petexbatun Capitals: Dos Pilas And Aguateca

The Petexbatun Expansion

Resurgence In The Central Lowlands


The Expansion Of Polities On The Usumacinta

Altar De Sacrificios



Piedras Negras

The Revitalization Of Tikal

Sites In The Eastern Lowlands

Altun Ha



The Expansion Of Polities In The Southwest Lowlands


The Early Rulers Of Palenque

The Supernatural Basis Of Power In Maya Cosmology

The Later Rulers Of Palenque


Recovery And Decline At Palenque

The Expansion Of Polities In The Southeast Lowlands


Archaeology And History At Copan


A Tale Of Two Cities

The Revitalization Of Copan

The Last Days Of Quirigua

The Development Of The Maya Lowlands In The Late Classic

6 The Terminal Classic

The Decline Of Dynastic Rule

The Collapse Issue

Investigations Into The Classic Decline

Theories Emphasizing Internal Factors

Theories Emphasizing External Factors

The Emergence Of New Power Brokers

Intervention In The Southern Lowlands


Putun Connections To Yucatan And Central Mexico

Reconstructing The Classic Decline

The Rise Of The Northern Polities

Dzibil Chaltun


Coba And Yaxuna

The Puuc And Related Regional Traditions





The Emergence Of A New Order In The Northern Lowlands

7 The Postclassic

The Dominance Of Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

The Organization Of The Itza State

External Connections Of The Itza State

The Dominance Of Mayapan


The East Coast Of Yucatan


The Fall Of Mayapan And The Rise Of Petty States

Santa Rita Corozal

The Final Days Of Maya Independence

The Southern Maya Area In The Postclassic

Summary: The Evolution Of Maya Civilization

8 Subsistence Systems

The Traditional View

Subsistence Systems Available To The Ancient Maya

Hunting And Gathering

Animal Husbandry

Agriculture: Fallow Systems

Agriculture: Intensive Systems

Reconstructing The Patterns Of Maya Subsistence

9 Trade And External Contact

Prehistoric Trade In Mesoamerica

Goods And Mechanisms In Long-distance Trade

Preclassic Trade

Classic Trade

Postclassic Trade

10 The Organization Of Society

Reconstructing The Social Landscape

Evidence From Settlement Studies

Population Reconstructions

Settlement Units In The Maya Lowlands

The Individual In Maya Society

Personal Appearance

Birth And Early Childhood


Life And Death

Marriage And The Family

Descent Groups

Social Stratification

Reconstructing The Political Landscape

Location And Power

Size And Power

Number And Size Of Lowland Polities

Evidence From Ethnohistoric Studies

The Postclassic Yucatan Maya

The Postclassic Quiche Maya

The Evolution Of Social Systems

The Lowland Maya As Galactic Polities

11 Ideology And Cosmology

The Origins Of Maya Ideology

Transformations By Outsiders


The Creation Myth

The Maya Universe

The Afterlife

Maya Deities

Itzamna, A Reptilian Deity (god D)

Kinich Ahau (ah Kinchil), A Sun Deity (god G)

Chac, A Rain Deity (god B)

Bolon Tza'cab, A Ruling-lineage Deity (god K)

Yum Kaax, A Maize Deity (god E)

Yum Cimil, A Death Deity (god A)

Ah Chicum Ek, A North Star Deity (god C)

Ek Chuah, A Merchant Deity (god M)

Buluc Chabtan, A War And Human-sacrifice Deity (god F)

Ix Chel, A Rainbow Deity (goddess I)

Other Deities Portrayed In The Codices

The Thirteen Deities Of The Upper World And The Nine Deities Of The Lower World

The Thirteen Deities Of The Katuns

Other Calendrical Deities

The Deities Of The Numerals 0–13

Rituals And Ceremonies

Divination And Altered Consciousness

Human Sacrifice

The Thirteen Katun Endings

New Year Ceremonies

Celebrations Of The Nineteen Months

12 Arithmetic, Calendrics, And Astronomy


The Calendar

Basic Units And Cycles

The Sacred Almanac Of 260 Days

The Vague Year Of 365 Days

The Calendar Round

The Long Count, Or Initial Series

Distance-number Dates

Period-ending Dates And The Short Count

Correlating The Maya And European Calendars


The Sun And The Moon


Other Planets, The Stars, And The Constellations

Astronomical Observatories

13 Language And Writing

History Of The Mayan Languages

The Structure Of Mayan Languages

Maya Documents Of The Colonial Period

Ancient Maya Writing

Pre-columbian Maya Texts

Deciphering Maya Writing

Recent Advances In Decipherment

The Mayan Syllabary

The Origins Of Maya Writing

The Status Of Decipherment

14 Architecture, Sculpture, And Painting


Stone Sculpture

Wood Sculpture

Stucco Modeling


15 Artifacts

Ceramics And Archaeology

A Chronological Review Of Maya Pottery

Early Preclassic

Middle Preclassic

Late Preclassic And Protoclassic

Early Classic

Late Classic

Terminal Classic

Early Postclassic

Late Postclassic

Patterns Of Household And Industrial Ceramic Production


Chipped-stone Eccentrics

Jade And Similar Carved And Polished Stone



Painted Books


Basketry And Matting


Epilogue: The Spanish Conquest

First Contacts, 1502–25

The Francisco Hernández De Córdoba Expedition, 1517

The Juan De Grijalva Expedition, 1518

The Hernán Cortés Expedition, 1519

The Cortés Expedition Through The Maya Lowlands, 1524–25

The Period Of Conquest, 1524–1697

The Subjugation Of The Southern Maya By Pedro De Alvarado, 1524–27

The Subjugation Of Yucatan By The Montejos, 1527–46

First Phase: An Attempt From The East, 1527–28

First Interval, 1528–31

Second Phase: An Attempt From The West, 1531–35

Second Interval, 1535–40

Third Phase: Conquest Completed, 1540–46

The Independent Itza, 1525–1696

The Subjugation Of The Itza, 1696–97

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information The main body of the Publication Information page contains all the metadata that HRAF holds for that document.

Author: Author's name as listed in Library of Congress records

Title: The ancient Maya

Published By: Original publisher Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. 1994. 32, 892 p. ill., maps

By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication Robert J. Sharer

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files, 2000. Computer File

Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis. Classic Maya (NY53)

Subjects: Document-level OCM identifiers given by the anthropology subject indexers at HRAF Writing (212); Recreational structures (345); Religious and educational structures (346); Miscellaneous structures (349); Mercantile business (441); Visual arts (5311); Status, role, and prestige (554); Chief executive (643);

Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document This is an excellent introduction to classic Mayan civilization and includes discussions about the preclassic and postclassic periods. In the first half of the book, Sharer discusses the Maya on a period-by-period and site-by-site basis. In the second half, he discusses various aspects of Mayan culture, such as subsistence system, trade, social organization, cosmology, calendrics, writing, architecture, and artifacts. Sharer provides a good overview of the relationships and history of the polities that made up the Mayan realm. Also he writes about the history of Mayan research and scholarship.

Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents 2

Document ID: HRAF's unique document identifier. The first part is the OWC identifier and the second part is the document number in three digits. ny53-002

Document Type: May include journal articles, essays, collections of essays, monographs or chapters/parts of monographs. Monograph

Language: Language that the document is written in English

Note: Rev. ed. of: The ancient Maya / Sylvanus G. Morley and George W. Brainerd. 4th ed. 1983 Includes bibliographical references (p. 765-847)

Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document Not specified

Evaluation: In this alphanumeric code, the first part designates the type of person writing the document, e.g. Ethnographer, Missionary, Archaeologist, Folklorist, Linguist, Indigene, and so on. The second part is a ranking done by HRAF anthropologists based on the strength of the source material on a scale of 1 to 5, as follows: 1 - poor; 2 - fair; 3 - good, useful data, but not uniformly excellent; 4 - excellent secondary data; 5 - excellent primary data Archeologist-4,5

Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection. Ian Skoggard ; 1999

Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date). 1750 BP - 1100 BP (250 A.D. - 900 A.D.)

Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site) Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings Mayas--Antiquities


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