Her Cup for Sweet Cacao
Food in Ancient Maya Society
400 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 2.10 in, 30 b&w photos, 53 b&w illus.
Sales Date: December 8, 2020
For the ancient Maya, food was both sustenance and a tool for building a complex society. This collection, the first to focus exclusively on the social uses of food in Classic Maya culture, deploys a variety of theoretical approaches to examine the meaning of food beyond diet—ritual offerings and restrictions, medicinal preparations, and the role of nostalgia around food, among other topics. For instance, how did Maya feasts build community while also reinforcing social hierarchy? What psychoactive substances were the elite Maya drinking in their caves, and why? Which dogs were good for eating, and which breeds became companions? Why did even some non-elite Maya enjoy cacao, but rarely meat? Why was meat more available for urban Maya than for those closer to hunting grounds on the fringes of cities? How did the molcajete become a vital tool and symbol in Maya gastronomy?
These chapters, written by some of the leading scholars in the field, showcase a variety of approaches and present new evidence from faunal remains, hieroglyphic texts, chemical analyses, and art. Thoughtful and revealing, Her Cup for Sweet Cacao unlocks a more comprehensive understanding of how food was instrumental to the development of ancient Maya culture.
This volume pulls together 13 chapters regarding the culinary culture(s) of the ancient Maya, drawing from a number of disciplines, including archaeology, art history, epigraphy, and culinary history...this book will primarily be useful for graduate students and scholars...Recommended.~CHOICE
Through a range of approaches, Her Cup for Sweet Cacao makes powerful connections that show the many different ways one can learn about past peoples through food. It is an important work not only for Mesoamerican archaeologists but anyone studying the food-ways of the Americas.~Anthropology & Mission
Through a range of approaches, Her Cup for Sweet Cacao makes powerful connections that show the many different ways one can learn about past peoples through food. It is an important work not only for Mesoamerican archaeologists but anyone studying the foodways of the Americas.~Christine A. Hastorf, University of California, Berkeley, author of The Social Archaeology of Food: Thinking about Eating from Prehistory to the Present
Her Cup for Sweet Cacao is clear about how a focus on food and drink can reveal important insights for archaeological information...a satisfying taste of ancient Maya foodways.~ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America
"[An] excellent edited volume...[Her Cup for Sweet Cacao] should be on the shelf of any archaeologist interested in the social archaeology of food or in the archaeology of the Maya world. The book contains an unusually dense and rich collection of studies, and readers comfortable with archaeological methods and terms will greatly appreciate the thoughtfulness and depth that characterize the works, as well as the data that many authors provide...Her Cup for Sweet Cacao is an unusually good edited volume."~American Anthropologist
This compelling collection of essays reveals the key role that food played in all dimensions of Maya society, including economics, politics, and religion...Ardren and the collection’s contributors painstakingly advance a unique, compelling, and thorough analysis of the social uses of food and foodways in Classic Maya culture, grounded in rich evidence analyzed from a diverse range of approaches. This volume sets the groundwork for further studies to explore other periods and regions in order to gain a broader understanding of this phenomenon in Maya culture.~Hispanic American Historical Review
The chapters in Her Cup for Sweet Cacao present multiple approaches to investigating the social importance of food in ancient Maya society, all of which push the conversation beyond viewing food as simply subsistence...The debates this volume will surely spark can help archaeologists refine the ways we conceptualize food in the ancient past.~Anthropos
1. Introduction (Traci Ardren)
2. Potluck: Building Community and Feasting among the Middle Preclassic Maya (M. Kathryn Brown and Carolyn Freiwald)
3. A Toast to the Earth: The Social Role of Beverages in Pre-Hispanic Maya Cave Ritual at Pacbitun, Belize (Jon Spenard, Adam King, Terry G. Powis, and Nilesh Gaikwad)
4. The Epigraphy of Ancient Maya Food and Drink (Nicholas Carter and Mallory E. Matsumoto)
5. Plant Foodstuffs of the Ancient Maya: Agents and Matter, Medium and Message (Shanti Morell-Hart)
6. Food, Friend, or Offering: Exploring the Role of Maya Dogs in the Zooarchaeological Record (Petra Cunningham-Smith, Ashley E. Sharpe, Arianne Boileau, Erin Kennedy Thornton, and Kitty F. Emery)
7. Celebrating Sihó: The Role of Food and Foodways in the Construction of Social Identities (Lilia Fernández Souza, Mario Zimmermann, and Socorro del Pilar Jiménez Álvarez)
8. Cuisine and Feasting in the Copán and Lower Ulúa Valleys in Honduras (Julia A. Hendon)
9. Talking Feasts: Classic Maya Commensal Politics at La Corona (Maxime Lamoureux-St-Hilaire)
10. Thinking (and Eating) Chichén Itzá: New Food Technology and Creating the Itzá State at Xuenkal (Traci Ardren)
11. Faunal Foods as Indices of Commoner Wealth (or Poverty) in Rural versus Urban Houselots of the Terminal Classic and Postclassic in Northwest Yucatán (Marilyn A. Masson, Timothy S. Hare, Bradley W. Russell, and Carlos Peraza Lope)
12. Human-Deity Relationships Conveyed through Balche’ Rituals and Resource Procurement (Gabrielle Vail and Maia Dedrick)
13. Conclusion: In Maya Food Studies, Who Is Maya? What Is Food? (Jeffrey M. Pilcher)
The publication of Her Cup for Sweet Cacao was made possible by the support of the The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies.