Women in Classic Maya Royal Courts

Takeshi Inomata

in Servants of the Dynasty

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780520254435
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941519 | DOI:
Women in Classic Maya Royal Courts

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Archaeologists and students working at the Classic Maya site of Aguateca in the rain forest of Guatemala unearthed objects that Classic Maya courtiers made and used, perhaps left behind because an enemy attack had brought Aguateca to a sudden and violent end. Among the numerous artifacts discovered during the excavations were beautiful figurines of noble women, some of them holding a child. Excavators also unearthed bone needles, spindle whorls, and grinding stones, which may have been used by women for textile production and food preparation. They provide tantalizing traces of women's life at court. This chapter examines the visibility of Classic Maya court women as a window to their power and role in the court. First, it provides an overview of Classic Maya royal courts, then looks at the depiction of court women in documents and images. It also considers women in court architecture and space, focusing on three cases: elite residential structures at Aguateca, the palace in Complex A-V at Uaxactun, and the center of Yaxchilan.

Keywords: Classic Maya; Aguateca; Guatemala; court women; royal courts; architecture; power; Uaxactun; Yaxchilan; residential structures

Chapter.  7347 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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