Keywords

maya, ballcourt, ballgame, mesoamerica, iconography, cosmology, worldview, ballcourt marker

Abstract

One of the more commonly known aspects of the ancient Maya culture is the ballgame. This ancient ballgame was played by most Mesoamerican cultures on a constructed ballcourt and many major Mesoamerican sites have at least one, if not more than one. Contemporary Mesoamericans still play versions of this ballgame today, but without the use of the ballcourts, questioning the importance and purpose of the ballcourt that is no longer the case today. After over a century of research, scholars have yet to unravel all the cosmological and mythological mysteries of the ballcourt and its purpose to the ancient Maya. Although the archaeological record rarely supports the well-known Postclassic Hero Twin myth, most scholars continue to use this myth to interpret Classic ballgame iconography. In this study, I link Classic period ballcourt architecture and iconography at Caracol to Preclassic cache practices, to an Early Classic tomb, and to an elite Classic structure, demonstrating a widespread set of cosmological symbols that were not exclusively reserved for the ballcourt. I suggest that the four eroded figures on Caracol Ballcourt Markers 1 and 2 represent east, west, zenith, and nadir, and that the north-south alignment of Classic Southern Lowland ballcourts was the result of a vertical visualization of the three ballcourt markers. This study shows that the Maya ballcourt was a cosmogram, intended to delineate sacred space and demarcate a portal into the underworld.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2009

Advisor

Chase, Arlen

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Anthropology

Degree Program

Anthropology

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0002817

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0002817

Language

English

Release Date

September 2009

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until September 2009; it will then be open access.

Included in

Anthropology Commons

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