February 12, 2011 Joanne Baron, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, U
Pa: "Before the Faces of their Gods: Classic Maya Patron
Deities and Classic Maya Communities"
Joanne Baron is a PhD candidate in anthropology at
the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked on archaeological
projects in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and the United States. Her
dissertation research is based at the site of La Corona, Guatemala,
where she has been excavating since 2008.She will be returning to
continue excavating at La Corona, this spring. Her research
is focused on Classic Maya patron deities and their role in politics
and community formation.
Classic Maya patron deities, such as the well-known
deity triad at Palenque, were deities that had special relationships
with the residents of particular Maya sites. As with modern patron
saints, these deities probably served as symbols of community identity
and their cults the basis of community cohesion at Classic Maya sites.
But while these localized cults have long been recognized by Maya
epigraphers, no study has ever been conducted aimed at revealing the
special relationship between patron deities and the people that
worshipped them. Ms. Baron’s dissertation research is aimed at
exploring this relationship through the excavation of patron deity
temples at La Corona, Guatemala, and a thorough examination of what
Classic Maya inscriptions actually say about this type of deity. Her
talk discussed the epigraphic aspect of this project and examined
patron deities in Classic Maya texts: their identities as distinct from
other supernatural beings; the ways they were made manifest by their
worshippers; and the ways in which they were believed to influence the
world, as revealed by the verbs attributed to them.
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