In Mortuary Landscapes of the Classic Maya, Andrew K. Scherer addresses features of ancient Maya death and burial that he asserts have not been generally acknowledged. Specifically, Scherer argues that distinct localized traditions regarding the proper treatment of the dead developed during the Classic period (ca. AD 250–900/1100). This diversity of mortuary practices prevailed despite the presence of some widely shared beliefs about death and burial. The author pursues this thesis primarily through bioarchaeological evidence (including from his own excavations), supplemented by epigraphy, iconography, colonial accounts, and ethnographic analogies from throughout the region. Rather than focusing on social inequality, gender, or hierarchy, Scherer is more interested in reconstructing the meanings of Classic Maya mortuary traditions in relation to notions of the self, the body, and the soul.

The introduction sets forth the geographic and temporal context as well as the work’s...

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