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Late Classic Politics and Ideology: A Case Study of Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 at Yaxchilan, Chiapas, Mexico

Nolan, Suzanne (2015) Late Classic Politics and Ideology: A Case Study of Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 at Yaxchilan, Chiapas, Mexico. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This project examines Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 (HS. 2) at Yaxchilan, a Classic Maya city in Southern Mexico. Uncovered in 1975 as part of the clearing and consolidation of Structure 33, HS. 2 is made up of thirteen carved blocks which form the riser to the last step in the ascent to this building. The blocks depict thirteen different individuals (four female and nine male) in a series of elaborate ballgame rituals that demonstrated the legitimacy and power of Bird Jaguar IV, the ruler over Yaxchilan from 752-768 A.D. In this study, the previous work conducted around this monument is examined, and argue that it has been insufficient to draw the conclusions commonly presented about it. A translation of the hieroglyphic inscriptions from all blocks is provided, where previously only translations from the central three blocks (VI, VII, VIII) have been made available. This study also provides an analysis of the imagery on the blocks to better understand the ideology of Late Classic Yaxchilan (530-830 A.D.). This work relies on the hieroglyphic and archaeological data available from the site to demonstrate the geographical and temporal variation in lowland Maya political organisation, and to provide a model for Late Classic Yaxchilan. Overall, the author argues that the Late Classic political organisation of Yaxchilan underwent a period of centralisation followed by decentralisation and collapse. The contribution of this study to the literature is the conclusion that the representation of so many individuals on HS. 2 reveals that political power was being conferred upon the elite through ‘empowering,’ which led to a delocalisation of authority. This may also have led to dissatisfaction among the general population of the ideology of kingship, which may have caused the community to reject uncharismatic rulers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Suzanne Nolan
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2016 14:40
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2016 14:40

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