An exploration of how the ancient Maya engaged with their history by using, altering, and burying stone sculptures.
For the ancient Maya, monumental stone sculptures were infused with agency. As they were used, reused, altered, and buried, such sculptures retained ceremonial meaning. In Memory in Fragments, Megan E. O'Neil explores how ancient Maya people engaged with history through these sculptures, as well as how they interacted with the stones themselves over the course of the sculptures’ long “lives.” Considering Maya religious practices, historiography, and conceptions of materials and things, O’Neil explores how Maya viewers perceived sculptures that were fragmented, scarred, burned, damaged by enemies, or set in unusual locations. In each case, she demonstrates how different human interactions, amid dynamic religious, political, and historical contexts, led to new episodes in the sculptures' lives.
A rare example of cross-temporal and geographical work in this field, Memory in Fragments both compares sculptures within ancient Maya culture across Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize over hundreds of years and reveals how memory may accrue around and be evoked in material remains.
Megan E. O'Neil is an assistant professor of art history at Emory University; the author of Engaging Ancient Maya Sculpture at Piedras Negras, Guatemala and The Maya; and coauthor of a revised edition of Maya Art and Architecture.
List of Illustrations
A Note on Language, Spelling, and Calendar Conventions
Preface and Acknowledgments
Section I. Shaping the Present and the Past
Chapter 1. Fragments of and in the Past
Chapter 2. Multidisciplinary Methodologies and Theoretical Approaches
Chapter 3. About Time: Engaging Time, History, and Materiality
Section II. Breakage and Reuse
Chapter 4. Violence, Transformation, and Renewal: Material Changes to Ancient Maya Sculptures
Chapter 5. Memory and Materiality of Reused, Reset, and Repurposed Monuments
Section III. Burial
Chapter 6. Ancient Maya Sculptures, Seen and Unseen: Part I, Burial and Renewal
Chapter 7. Ancient Maya Sculptures, Seen and Unseen: Part II, Sculptures Buried in Architecture
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