Stone Houses and Earth Lords
432 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:03 May 2021
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Stone Houses and Earth Lords

Maya Religion in the Cave Context

University Press of Colorado
Cave archaeology in the New World, now a focus of intense research, was still a peripheral area of inquiry just fifteen years ago. Stone Houses and Earth Lords is the first volume dedicated exclusively to the use of caves in the Maya Lowlands, covering primarily Classic Period archaeology from A.D. 100 through the Spaniards' arrival. Although the caves that riddled the lowlands show no signs of habitation, most contain evidence of human use - evidence that suggests that they functioned as ritual spaces.

Demonstrating the importance of these subterranean spaces to Maya archaeology, contributors provide interpretations of archaeological remains that yield insights into Maya ritual and cosmology. Compiling the best current scholarship in this fast-growing area of research, Stone Houses and Earth Lords is a vital reference for Mayanists, Mesoamerican specialists, and others interested in the human use of caves in the New World. Contributors include: Juan Luis Bonor, James E. Brady, Robert Burnett, Allan B. Cobb, Pierre Robert Colas, Cesar Espinosa, Sergio Garza, David M. Glassman, Christina T. Halperin, Amalia Kenward, Andrew Kindon, Patricia McAnany, Christopher Morehart, Holley Moyes, Vanessa A. Owen, Shankari Patel, Polly Peterson, Keith M. Prufer, Timothy. W. Pugh, Frank Saul, Julie Saul, Ann M. Scott, Andrea Stone, and Vera Tiesler.

This book makes a very strong case that archaeologists can explore religion using rigorous theory, ethnohistoric sources, and the intensive study of archaeological data. This book opens up a whole new venue in which to explore Maya religion and belief and the many authors clearly illustrate how caves were perceived by the Maya as a highly charged point on the sacred landscape. The book is well-edited, which makes the chapters flow well together, and there is extensive bibliographic referencing, making it the first source to use when researching this topic. The level of detail and interpretation in each study provides what is needed to finally give caves their proper place in the study of the ancient Maya.'
- The Americas
With Stone Houses and Earth Lords and another collection of broader scope (Brady & Prufer 2005), Maya cave archaeology has become one of the two best-studied traditions of subterranean achaeology in the world. Other than parts of France and Spain, there is no other region with such intensity of research and comparable intensity of ancient use. In no small part, this break-through results from the tenacity of James Brady. . . . Brady can claim to have created a specialty that can now rework prior Mayanist perception of the landscape. . . . The essential point of the chapters is that Maya caves relate to ideas and ritual practice, not to habitation and extraction of resources. . . . The volume contains real surprises. Brady's comparison of finds from caves, especially in the Petexbatun sites, and those from surface excavations will - and should - shock most Mayanists. The sheer quantity of cave finds is stunning, as, incidentally, is their extraordinary preservation.'
- Cambridge Archaeological Journal
Destined to become a required book for all Mayanists. . . . The editors make a critical point that is only just being appreciated - that ritual is not ideology or religion, but action, and action leaves telling evidence in the archaeological record.'
- Lisa J. Lucero, New Mexico State University
Keith M. Prufer is a professor of anthropology at Wichita State University.
James E. Brady is an associate professor of anthropology at California State University, Los Angeles.
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