In what is both a specific study of conversion in a corner of the Spanish Empire and a work with implications for the understanding of European domination and native resistance throughout the colonial world, Inga Clendinnen explores the intensifying conflict between competing and increasingly divergent Spanish visions of Yucatan and its destructive outcomes. In Ambivalent Conquests Clendinnen penetrates the thinking and feeling of the Mayan Indians in a detailed reconstruction of their assessment of the intruders. This new edition contains a preface by the author where she reflects upon the book's contribution in the past fifteen years. Inga Clendinnen is Emeritus scholar, LaTrobe University, Australia. Her books include the acclaimed Reading the Holocaust (Cambridge, 1999), named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, and Aztec: An Interpretation (Cambridge, 1995), and Tiger's Eye: A Memoir (Scribner, 2001).
Mesoamerica has become one of the world's most important areas for research into the emergence of complex human societies. Between 10,000 years ago and the arrival of the Spanish in 1521, some of the most significant changes in the evolution of human societies occurred. These included the emergence of agriculture and sedentary villages, the growth of centralized governments (chiefdoms and states), and the rise of market systems, cities, and highly stratified social systems. In the 1970s and 1980s a number of ambitious research efforts produced exciting data on culture change in Mesoamerica. In this revised and updated 1993 edition of a book first published in 1981, the authors present a synthesis of Mesoamerican prehistory, focusing on three of its most intensively studied regions, the Valleys of Oaxaca and Mexico and the Maya lowlands. An original framework of ideas is developed to explain long-term change in complex societies.
Art and Writing in the Maya Cities, AD 600-800 examines an important aspect of the visual cultures of the ancient Maya in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. During a critical period of cultural evolution, artistic production changed significantly, as calligraphy became an increasingly important formal element in Maya aesthetics and was used extensively in monumental building, sculptural programs and small-scale utilitarian objects. Adam Herring's study analyzes art works, visual programs, and cultural sites of memory, providing an anthropologically-informed description of ancient Maya culture, vision, and artistic practice. An inquiry into the contexts and perceptions of the ancient Maya city, his book melds epigraphic and iconographic methodologies with the critical tradition of art-historical interpretation.
For at least two millennia before the advent of the Spaniards in 1519, there was a flourishing civilization in central Mexico. During that long span of time a cultural evolution took place which saw a high development of the arts and literature, the formulation of complex religious doctrines, systems of education, and diverse political and social organization.
The rich documentation concerning these people, commonly called Aztecs, includes, in addition to a few codices written before the Conquest, thousands of folios in the Nahuatl or Aztec language written by natives after the Conquest. Adapting the Latin alphabet, which they had been taught by the missionary friars, to their native tongue, they recorded poems, chronicles, and traditions.
The fundamental concepts of ancient Mexico presented and examined in this book have been taken from more than ninety original Aztec documents. They concern the origin of the universe and of life, conjectures on the mystery of God, the possibility of comprehending things beyond the realm of experience, life after death, and the meaning of education, history, and art. The philosophy of the Nahuatl wise men, which probably stemmed from the ancient doctrines and traditions of the Teotihuacans and Toltecs, quite often reveals profound intuition and in some instances is remarkably "modern."
This English edition is not a direct translation of the original Spanish, but an adaptation and rewriting of the text for the English-speaking reader.
In exploring the pattern and methods of Aztec expansion, Ross Hassig focuses on political and economic factors. Because they lacked numerical superiority, faced logistical problems presented by the terrain, and competed with agriculture for manpower, the Aztecs relied as much on threats and the image of power as on military might to subdue enemies and hold them in their orbit. Hassig describes the role of war in the everyday life of the capital, Tenochtitlan: the place of the military in Aztec society; the education and training of young warriors; the organization of the army; the use of weapons and armor; and the nature of combat.
An early account of the Aztecs and their culture, based in part on the Codex de Mendoza. Biart's purpose for this work was to educate readers unfamiliar with the history of the Aztecs, yet he anticipated some criticism from academic circles: "..as Acosta has been accused (and not without reason, it is true) of having tranquilly copied Duran and Tezozomoc, who in turn had copied the anonymous author of the manuscript known as the "Codex Ramirez".., I am anxious to forestall all accusation of this sort. I therefore confess to my readers that I was compelled - a necessity which historians cannot escape - to imitate, amplify, reduce, commentate, translate, and remold such passages in the writings of the fathers in the history of New Spain as might aid me in my undertaking.. I could have invented.. but I have not done so, recalling that one of the kings of the Colhuas decreed that inaccurate historians should be punished with death."
The third edition of this classic book takes up the thorny question of when and where the Maya script first appeared in the archaeological record, and describes efforts to decipher its meaning on the extremely early murals of San Bartolo. It includes iconographic and epigraphic investigations into how the Classic Maya perceived and recorded the human senses, a previously unknown realm of ancient Maya thought and perception.
There is now compelling documentary and historical evidence bearing on the question of why and how the "breaking of the Maya code" was the achievement of Yuri V. Knorosov--a Soviet citizen totally isolated behind the Iron Curtain--and not of the leading Maya scholar of his day, Sir Eric Thompson. What does it take to make such a breakthrough, with a script of such complexity as the Maya? We now have some answers, as Michael Coe demonstrates here.
For hundreds of years, the history of the conquest of Mexico and the defeat of the Aztecs has been told in the words of the Spanish victors. Miguel Le n-Portilla has long been at the forefront of expanding that history to include the voices of indigenous peoples. In this new and updated edition of his classic The Broken Spears, Le n-Portilla has included accounts from native Aztec descendants across the centuries. These texts bear witness to the extraordinary vitality of an oral tradition that preserves the viewpoints of the vanquished instead of the victors. Le n-Portilla's new Postscript reflects upon the critical importance of these unexpected historical accounts.
At an excavation of the Great Aztec Temple in Mexico City, amid carvings of skulls and a dismembered warrior goddess, David Carrasco stood before a container filled with the decorated bones of infants and children. It was the site of a massive human sacrifice, and for Carrasco the center of fiercely provocative questions: If ritual violence against humans was a profound necessity for the Aztecs in their capital city, is it central to the construction of social order and the authority of city states? Is civilization built on violence?In City of Sacrifice, Carrasco chronicles the fascinating story of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, investigating Aztec religious practices and demonstrating that religious violence was integral to urbanization; the city itself was a temple to the gods. That Mexico City, the largest city on earth, was built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, is a point Carrasco poignantly considers in his comparison of urban life from antiquity to modernity. Majestic in scope, City of Sacrifice illuminates not only the rich history of a major Meso american city but also the inseparability of two passionate human impulses: urbanization and religious engagement. It has much to tell us about many familiar events in our own time, from suicide bombings in Tel Aviv to rape and murder in the Balkans.