Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
While many interpretations of elite Precolumbian Maya ritual focus on its function as a political strategy to maintain and naturalize social stratification, it is just as important to consider the sincerity of the ritual practitioners, who lived and functioned inside an ontology that included living hills and caves who had very real impacts on the lives of their neighbors and those who passed through their land. This presentation will focus on several contexts in Guatemala and Mexico where the author has worked where the Maya expended great effort to create rock art only visible from ritual stages, or in other restricted spaces. He will also discuss other examples where complex ritual circuits were designed, marked, modified , and maintained in a "back-stage" context that resulted in a difficult journey that was, similarly, invisible to the audience below. As a result, the author argues that these were sincere acts of faith in addition to being politically expedient, and by "taking seriously" the ancient elite (a la Viveiros de Castro and others), we can glean several profound insights into how the Maya viewed their world.