Before Kukulkán

Bioarchaeology of Maya Life, Death, and Identity at Classic Period Yaxuná

Vera Tiesler (Author), Andrea Cucina (Author), Travis W. Stanton (Author), David A. Freidel (Author), Traci Ardren (Foreword)
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This volume illuminates human lifeways in the northern Maya lowlands prior to the rise of Chichén Itzá. This period and area have been poorly understood on their own terms, obscured by scholarly focus on the central lowland Maya kingdoms. Before Kukulkán is anchored in three decades of interdisciplinary research at the Classic Maya capital of Yaxuná, located at a contentious crossroads of the northern Maya lowlands.

Using bioarchaeology, mortuary archaeology, and culturally sensitive mainstream archaeology, the authors create an in-depth regional understanding while also laying out broader ways of learning about the Maya past. Part 1 examines ancient lifeways among the Maya at Yaxuná, while part 2 explores different meanings of dying and cycling at the settlement and beyond: ancestral practices, royal entombment and desecration, and human sacrifice. The authors close with a discussion of the last years of occupation at Yaxuná and the role of Chichén Itzá in the abandonment of this urban center.

Before Kukulkán provides a cohesive synthesis of the evolving roles and collective identities of locals and foreigners at the settlement and their involvement in the region’s trajectory. Theoretically informed and contextualized discussions offer unique glimpses of everyday life and death in the socially fluid Maya city. These findings, in conjunction with other documented series of skeletal remains from this region, provide a nuanced picture of the social and biocultural dynamics that operated successfully for centuries before the arrival of the Itzá.
“Provides solid bioarchaeological evidence and modern laboratory analysis to improve our understanding of Classic Maya migration, diet, health, and social identity.”—Joel W. Palka, author of Unconquered Lacandon Maya

“With its highly detailed and technical analysis of the skeletal remains from Yaxuná, this pioneering volume will illuminate new paths for future Maya research.”—Walter R. T. Witschey, editor of Encyclopedia of the Ancient Maya
Before Kukulkán
344 Pages 7 x 10
Published: December 2017Hardcover ISBN: 9780816532643
Published: May 2020Ebooks (OA) ISBN: 9780816541713

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