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Ek Balam: A New Emblem Glyph

The reconstruction of the sociopolitical organization of the
Classic Maya society remains one of the prominent subjects for the disciplines involved – archaeology, ethnohistory and epigraphy (cf. the special section in Current Anthropology 37(5) 1996; Haviland 1997). One may concentrate on three aspects of the sociopolitical system:
a) The internal organization. With regard to the complexity of Classic Maya culture, consensus on a state-level society has been reached. Discussions on the nature of Maya states oscillate between centralized and segmentary states.
b) The political landscape. City states characterized the territorial organization. Epigraphic research (Martin & Grube 1994; 1995) has only recently put forward the
super-state model for the Late Classic (600–900 A.D.)
which implies the structured association of individual city
states within larger orbits of power.
c) The temporal and regional variation. The varying availability and applicability of archaeological data, epigraphic
records and ethnohistorical documents highlights the individual characteristics of Maya states and denies a homogeneous picture (cf. Marcus 1993).
The case study which is presented here epitomizes questions evolving from the above three aspects: Focal point of our study is the northeastern Yucatán region during the transition from the Late Classic to the Terminal Classic period (700–1000 A.D.). Contrary to the collapse phenomenon in the Southern Lowlands, the northern part of the peninsula experiences the emergence of a New Order. Chichén Itzá overwhelms the fractionized city states and establishes itself as the center of a state with pan-Mesoamerican influence. While most of the inscribed monuments vanish in the 9th century, the ethnohistorical sources from early Colonial times begin to speak up loudly for Chichén Itzá. Thus archaeology, epigraphy and ethnohistory shed light from differing perspectives on this period.
New inscriptions from the archaeological site of Ek
Balam evidences the Late Classic presence of an Emblem
Glyph at this site. It enhances the otherwise sparse epigraphic record for this region and period of time considerably.
Additional insights gained from the ethnohistoric sources on Ek Balam allow for a more precise reconstruction of the changing political landscape of the northeastern Yucatán during the Late and Terminal Classic.

Updated: Sep 19, 2005 - 19:00
Created: Oct 09, 2004 - 13:55

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