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By William Howell (sometimes spelled Howel)

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The most vivid representations of the life and death power held by Maya rulers are the scenes of bound and tortured captives on the Bonampak murals, or carved on monuments and stairways (Marcus 1974). ” Military power was fundamental to the dynamic relationships that existed between Classic Maya polities, and a major factor responsible for the waxing and waning of individual polities over time (Demarest 1996; Sharer 1991). In contrast to the exercise of military power across political boundaries, there are few explicit depictions of such naked power that refer to the authority of Maya kings over their own subjects.

However, it is important to understand that even these most potent of Maya states did not truly incorporate these less powerful polities into their realm. Thus, although the ruler of Caracol may have been allied with, and likely subordinate to, the ruler of Calakmul in a series of wars waged against the rulers of Tikal, the polity of Caracol was never incorporated into the political and economic apparatus of Calakmul. If Dos Pilas was founded by a branch of the Tikal dynasty as part of the Tikal Continuities and changes in Maya archaeology 36 polity, soon thereafter it broke away under the auspices of the ruler of Calakmul and established itself as an independent dynasty, never integrated in any real sense into the Calakmul polity.

18. Much of the fighting between the polities of Yaxchilán and Piedras Negras, for instance, may have taken place as skirmishes along their frontiers, where defensible sights such as La Pasadita seem to have been imposed on the landscape as a means of controlling overland access and trade routes, and helped to enforce centralized royal authority (Aliphat 1994; Anaya 2001; Golden 2003). 19. Indeed, Geertz’s theater state was intended as a culturally and historically specific model, wherein the rulers of Balinese kingdoms wielded the symbols of their authority in very particular ways because “they were what there was” (Geertz 1980:136).

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An Institution of General History (1680) William Howell - Volume One by William Howell (sometimes spelled Howel)


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