In the Maw of the Earth Monster: Studies of Mesoamerican Ritual Cave Use

Overview

Although the history of the investigation of caves in Mesoamerica goes back some 150 years, little work has been carried out to collate and synthesise the data. Despite the ground-breaking work of J Eric Thompson in the 1950s and 1960s, it was not until the 1980s that cave archaeology came of age in this region. Based on papers given at a session at the 1994 AAA meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, this book brings together a group of scholars working in this feild of study. Together they explore many facets of cave use ...
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Overview

Although the history of the investigation of caves in Mesoamerica goes back some 150 years, little work has been carried out to collate and synthesise the data. Despite the ground-breaking work of J Eric Thompson in the 1950s and 1960s, it was not until the 1980s that cave archaeology came of age in this region. Based on papers given at a session at the 1994 AAA meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, this book brings together a group of scholars working in this feild of study. Together they explore many facets of cave use in pre-Columbian to modern-day Mesoamerica, offering specific site studies as well as theoretical and ethnographically-based papers. Issues of cave morphology, cave use, artefact distributions, spatial layout, identifying ritual behaviour, the archaeology of caves and the use of ethnographic datam are all covered. The papers are split into those focusing on Central Mexico (three papers), Oxaca (two papers) and the Maya region (nine papers).
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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Latin American Studies - Elizabeth Graham
This volume on Mesoamerican ritual cave use is a significant achievement on the editors' part and a major contribution to cave research. It is also a landmark in research on religion, ritual, and worldview in Maya studies as a whole.
Journal of Latin American Studies
This volume on Mesoamerican ritual cave use is a significant achievement on the editors' part and a major contribution to cave research. It is also a landmark in research on religion, ritual, and worldview in Maya studies as a whole.
— Elizabeth Graham, Institute of Archaeology, University College London
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Product Details

Meet the Author

JAMES E. BRADY is Associate Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Los Angeles.

KEITH M. PRUFER is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction : a history of Mesoamerican cave interpretation 1
Pt. 1 Central Mexico 19
2 Rites of passage and other ceremonies in caves 21
3 The cave-pyramid complex among the contemporary Nahua of Northern Veracruz 35
4 Constructing mythic space : the significance of a Chicomoztoc complex at Acatzingo Viejo 69
Pt. 2 Oaxaca 89
5 Pre-Hispanic rain ceremonies in Blade Cave, Sierra Mazateca, Oaxaca, Mexico 91
6 Sacred caves and rituals from the Northern Mixteca of Oaxaca, Mexico : new revelations 117
Pt. 3 The Maya region 153
7 Some notes on ritual caves among the ancient and modern Maya 155
8 Shamans, caves, and the roles of ritual specialists in Maya society 186
9 Cave stelae and megalithic monuments in western Belize 223
10 A cognitive approach to artifact distribution in caves of the Maya area 249
11 Cluster concentrations, boundary markers, and ritual pathways : A GIS analysis of artifact cluster patterns at Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize 269
12 Ethnographic notes on Maya Q'eqchi' cave rites : implications for archaeological interpretation 301
13 A Lacandon religious ritual in the cave of the god Tsibana at the holy lake of Mensabok in the rainforest of Chiapas 328
14 Beneath the Yalahau : emerging patterns of ancient Maya ritual cave use from Northern Quintana Roo, Mexico 342
15 Caves, karst, and settlement at Mayapan, Yucatan 373
16 Concluding comments 403
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