February 12, 2011 Joanne Baron, PhD Candidate in Anthropology,  U of 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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