Animate architecture at Kabah : terminal classic art and politics in the Puuc region of Yucatán, Mexico
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This dissertation explores sociopolitical dynamics in the Puuc region during the Terminal Classic period (c. 750-1000 CE) through a multi-level examination of architectural sculpture. It begins with a broad look at the regional iconography, reassessing the meaning of the most common motifs within an architectural context. It then narrows in on Kabah, where I consider the range of art and architecture present at a single site. The remainder of the dissertation is devoted to one of Kabah’s most remarkable buildings, the Codz Pop. In light of recent archaeological discoveries and extensive archival research, I suggest that while shared Puuc iconography reflects a regional ideology, the modification of such imagery allowed powerful rulers to transform buildings into symbols of local authority and instruments of social order. Fundamental to this argument is the idea that Puuc architecture was conceived of as an animate extension of the natural world, imbued with a supernatural energy that was harnessed by local rulers. In addition to an iconographic analysis, this dissertation includes a summary of archaeological work at Kabah and a detailed historiography of the Codz Pop. The text is further supplemented by an extensive collection of images, including recent photographs of Kabah, new illustrations of the sculpted doorjambs from the site, and a catalog assembling the loose stones from the Codz Pop’s Hieroglyphic Platform. The result is a comprehensive overview of Puuc iconography that not only expands our knowledge of regional ideology and history, but more broadly contributes to studies on the articulation of rulership in ancient Mesoamerica.