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Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya$
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Brett A. Houk, Barbara Arroyo, and Terry G. Powis

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066226

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066226.001.0001

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Capturing the Forest

Capturing the Forest

Ancient Maya Ritual Caves as Built Environments

(p.313) 15 Capturing the Forest
Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya

Holley Moyes

University Press of Florida

In chapter 15, Holley Moyes interprets ancient Maya cave sites as ritual venues that instantiated Maya cosmology, providing archaeologists with an unambiguous context for understanding the ritual life of ancient Maya people. Cave archaeologists strive to understand how and when these sites were used, who used them, and how. As sacred spaces, caves could be manipulated in political contests for the acquisition and maintenance of power. Space is a consideration in cave studies, but there has been little discussion of caves as built environments. In this chapter, Moyes discusses the structure of caves in Belize and outlines an analytical approach for relating structure to social process. Providing a case study from the cave at Las Cuevas, she argues that architectural elements evidence large-scale collective action during the tumultuous Late Classic period.

Keywords:   Maya, Cave sites, cosmology, Sacred spaces, Belize, Las Cuevas

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