Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars

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University of Texas Press, 1999 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 348 pages
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OBSERVATIONS OF THE SUN, moon, planets, and stars played a central role in ancient Maya lifeways, as they do today among contemporary Maya who maintain the traditional ways. This pathfinding book reconstructs ancient Maya astronomy and cosmology through the astronomical information encoded in Precolumbian Maya art and confirmed by the current practices of living Maya peoples.

Susan Milbrath opens the book with a discussion of modern Maya beliefs about astronomy, along with essential information on naked-eye observation. She devotes subsequent chapters to Precolumbian astronomical imagery, which she traces back through time, starting from the Colonial and Postclassic eras. She synthesizes the work of many scholars and goes on to develop original interpretations about the major astronomical gods identified with the sun, moon, naked-eye planets, and constellations and their associated glyphs, astronomical almanacs in the Maya codices (painted books), and changes in the imagery of the heavens over time.

This investigation yields new data and a new synthesis of information about the specific astronomical events and cycles recorded in Maya art and architecture. The first major study to focus on the relationship between art and astronomy in ancient Maya culture, this book will be essential reading for students and scholars of Precolumbian art history and anthropology, archaeoastronomy, ethnography, and comparative mythology.

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
CONTEMPORARY MAYA IMAGES
12
How the Sun Moves and Transforms
21
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About the author (1999)

Susan Milbrath is Curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History and Affiliate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida.

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