Animals and Sacred Mountains: How Ritualized Performances Materialized State-Ideologies at Teotihuacan, Mexico
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CitationSugiyama, Nawa. 2014. Animals and Sacred Mountains: How Ritualized Performances Materialized State-Ideologies at Teotihuacan, Mexico. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractHumans have always been fascinated by wild carnivores. This has led to a unique interaction with these beasts, one in which these key figures played an important role as main icons in state imperialism and domination. At the Classic period site of Teotihuacan, Mexico (A.D. 1-550) this was no exception as large carnivores (mainly eagles, felids, canids and rattlesnake) were sacrificed and deposited as associated offerings in large-scale dedicatory rituals. This study investigates the zooarchaeological remains of nearly two-hundred animals found in offertory chambers at the Moon Pyramid and the Sun Pyramid to question: 1) What were the dynamic ritual processes that took place during the dedication ritual? 2) What changes do we see in the types of human-animal interactions with wild carnivores? 3) How did the participation of animals in ritualized activities lead to the concretion of a stratified sociopolitical landscape? And, 4) what were some of the meanings and functions behind the dedicatory acts? This project applies a multi-methodological approach integrating zooarchaeological, isotopic, and iconographic analyses interpreted in light of existing ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and religious studies literature. The dataset resulting from this dissertation provides the most comprehensive evidence of the central role animals played in rituals linked to monumentalism and state domination. Ferocious carnivores not only participated as victims of sacrifice and ritual paraphernalia, but were also kept in confinement in anticipation to the ritual slaughter. A shift in human-animal interactions, now characterized by dominance and control of the most powerful beast on the landscape, was central to creating a new perception of the animal hierarchy. The fauna deposited at these offering caches were social agents that helped negotiate and maintain social hierarchies, even ascribe meaning into the monuments themselves, through their participation in ritualized performances.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12274541
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