Anth 4220/5220  The Archaeology of Mexico and Central America

Fall 1997.  T Th 12:30-1:45,  Hale 240.  Payson Sheets, office Hale 160,
office hours T Th 2-3:30 pm.  

Prerequisite: Anth 2200.

Week; Dates	Topic		Readings:

1  26, 28 Aug  Intro, Geogr, Geology  Preface, Ch. 1 thru p. 6

2  2, 4 Sep  Ecology, PaleoIndian Pd   pp. 6-12

3  9, 11 Sep Archaic, Early Formative  Ch. 2, Ch. 3 thru p. 52

4  16, 18 Sep Mid-Late Formative (Olmec)  52-71

5  23, 25 Sep PreClassic Maya  71-76

   		    Thursday 25 Sep: First Midterm Exam

6  30 Sep, 2 Oct  Maya agric, settlements  108-140, 231-68	

7  7, 9 Oct	Ideology, mythology	  273-97, 321-31
				(“Popol Vuh” video thurs)	
8  14, 16 Oct  Politics, writing  Ch. 5

9  21, 23 Oct  Cl Maya Warfare, Collapse   333-5

10 28, 30 Oct  Teotihuacan Valley & City  77-94

    		    Thursday 30 Oct: Second Midterm Exam

11 4, 6 Nov    Teotihuacan expansion, empire  Ch. 6 to 189, 203-5

12 11, 13 Nov The "Epiclassic" in Mexico  205-17, 223-31, 353-61

13 18, 20 Nov  Chichen Itza, Tula, and the “Toltecs”  364-82, 383-409,

14 25 Nov Oaxaca: Monte Alban, Mitla  98-108, 218-23, 413-20

15 2, 4 Dec Aztecs: Tenochtitlan & empire   438-79

16 9 Dec   Summary & Overview, Preparation for Final Exam   Ch. 9

Final Exam:  Tuesday 16 Dec 3:30-6:30pm  same room
 Excluded: 189-203, 217-18, 297-321, 331-33, 335-52, 361-4, 409-13,


Midterms: Thursday 25 Sept and Thursday 30 Oct, each 100 points.  
Final Exam: 200 points  16 Dec, same room,  3:30 pm.  
No makeup examinations.  It is your responsibility to attend and take the
exams at the scheduled time.


Termpapers are due no later than noon Friday 5 December.  Ten percent of
the total will be deducted per day late.  The termpapers will be returned
to you on the day of the final examination.  I will be glad to help you on
selection of topic, reference materials, and the like.  Please note the
attached list of primary reference materials in Norlin that you may find

Undergraduate (4220):  Students will prepare an original paper consisting
of 4 to 7 pages of typed double spaced text, normal fonts (this length is
text only, and does not include your list of References Cited and your
illustrations as Figures).  The topic is of your own choosing, so long as
it focuses on an aspect of Mexican or Central American archaeology, from a
social science perspective.  The text can be largely descriptive, but it
must have at least a page of your own ideas, reactions, opinions,
comparisons, or suggestions.  The anthropological style of parenthetical
referencing is mandatory.  If you are unfamilar with this, see the
attached style sheet.  Value: 100 points.

Graduate students (5220) will prepare a 10 to 15 page typed double spaced
graduate level termpaper.  It must be primarily theoretical in nature.  It
could be explanatory (e.g. the function of feline symbolism in Olmec art,
or the reasons shamans travel long distances for symbols of power),
processual (e.g. the factors underlying the rise of the Teotihuacan
empire), or hypothesis testing (e.g. evaluating two competing explanations
for the collapse of the Classic Maya).  Parenthetical referencing is to be
used, of course.  Value: 200 points.


Muriel Porter Weaver  1993  The Aztecs, Maya, and their Predecessors.  3rd
Ed.  NY: Academic press.
Notes on the "POPOL VUH"

	The Popol Vuh is the name of the document that expresses the
creation beliefs of the Quiche Maya of highland Guatemala, who live about
1/2 way between Guatemala City and the Mexican border.  All Maya groups
share the core elements of the creation of the universe and of the Maya
people, so we will take it as representative of all Maya.  Most Maya
continue to ascribe to these beliefs, and this film is a unique window
into the Maya mind and world-view.  There is clear archaeological evidence
that these beliefs were well-developed as far back as the Classic Period,
and they must have originated during the Formative (Preclassic) Period or
earlier.  It was handed down as oral history for many generations, and was
written in Quiche Maya, using Spanish letters as phonetic symbols, in
1550.  Apparently, hieroglyphic versions existed in codices in the Maya
Classic period, but none survived.  The two principal characters in this
Quiche epic, the Hero Twins, are depicted on Classic Period stelae and on
numerous polychrome painted pottery vessels.
	The original Classic period painted vessels that show events in
this epic drama of the Hero Twins are the basic designs for this
animation.  The film took ten years to complete, because of the need for
accuracy, the time in research, and the need to do thousands of drawings
used in the animation.
	Of all Native American creation myths, this is the most complete
to survive to our time.  As an epic poem it gives us an insight into the
Maya view of their universe, ethics, values, obligations to kin, and
thought.  It shows the importance of tests (challenges, "tricks"), as how
one handles those tests indicates if they are prepared for an increase in
status, for the next stage in life, or if they should move down a "notch."
	The universe began when the creator god (heart of sky) had made
water.  They cried "earth" and land appeared, then they made trees,
rivers, animals, and other elements of nature.  Most things were mute,
(nothing was paying homage to the gods) so they created people out of
clay.  That was not satisfactory because they melted when they got wet.
So, they destroyed these early versions of people and made them out of
wood.  That was better, but they had little spirit and would not adore the
gods, so they were destroyed.  Even the pots and pans revolted against
these wooden people because people msitreated the pots and pans.  Some of
these early wooden people escaped the destruction and these are now
monkeys.  The third creation of people (initially males) was very
successful because people were made of a thick mixture of ground yellow
and white corn, patted and sculpted to shape.  It was too successful, as
people could see to the end of the universe, so their vision was "misted"
and females were created to occupy much of their attention.  Finally,
people were paying homage to the gods, but they were not overly capable
and "seeing" all of the universe, and the gods liked it.  So, the universe
with people in it began really functioning when the sun came up and there
was light.
	The epic action part of the story concerns two sets of twins:  the
older ones created before people were created, and the younger "hero
twins".  The father and uncle (1 Hunter and 7 Hunter, or Hun Hunahpu and
Vucub Hunahpu in Maya) of the hero twins were ball players, and they were
invited to the underworld (Xibalba) to play against two underworld gods (1
Death and 7 Death).  The latter tricked the former and decapitated them.
The head of one was hung in a tree, and continued to live.  The maden
Little Blood visited the tree, and the head spat into her hand, making her
pregnant.  That outraged her father; she tricked him by substituting copal
sap for her supposedly-removed heart.  She convinced the hero twins’
grandmother that she was worthy. She gave birth to the hero twins.  (Note
associations of  corn seeds and human skulls, death and rebirth.)  The
twins grow up and learn to trick their older brothers.  Their grandmother
did not want the hero twins to play that game, and she gets very upset
when she learns that the hero twins are going to play the same underword
deities that decapitated 1 and 7 Hunter.  Two corn plants are indicators
of how they are doing.  The ball symbolizes the sun's passage, affected by
various forces including human activity.  A rat helps the hero twins get
the ball game equipment, and is rewared with access to food for all time.
	The hero twins are named Hunahpu and Xbalanque in Maya, or Hunter
and Jaguar Deer in English.  They face tests, tricks, & challenges in
growing up, e.g. as they trick their jealous older brothers (1 Howler and
1 Monkey) and thus show that they are worthy.  Consistently false pride
and arrogance are defeated by intellect and bravery.  They have many tests
of  wit and courage in the underworld as they battle various forces and
play the ball game.  Animals are rewarded for helping the hero twins.  A
mosquito bites the underworld gods to learn their names for the twins;
knowing the name diminishes the evil.  The twins are imprisoned in a house
of knives, a house of cold, a house of jaguars, and a house of bats.
While sleeping in his blowgun, Hunter extends his head and is decapitated;
but a temporary subsititute of a pumpkin and a lost ball in the ballgame
allows his real head to be reattached.   It is during the game, when the
pumpkin bursts, that the lords of Xibalba learn that the twins survived.
The lords build a fire and the twins voluntarily jump into it; their bones
are thrown into the river and the lords think they finally are killed.
Not!  The twins' ultimate trick is to disguize themselves as
beggars/magicians who can burn down houses and rebuild them, decapitate
and re-capitate individuals, and so forth.  They cleverly omit a couple of
key re-capitations at the end!  They became the sun and the moon, and the
world began functioning properly.

Payson Sheets

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