Spaces whereas lintels and panels that adorned elite

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spaces, whereas lintels and panels that adorned elite buildings and could be seen by a limited number of high-status indi- viduals often dealt with rituals attended mainly by court mem- bers and held in exclusive settings (see Sanchez 1997). Ce- ramic paintings were viewed by only a few individuals at a time, typically in elite residences or administrative buildings. Many of them depicted courtly interactions that took place in similar architectural settings, although there are ceramic paintings depicting public events as well. Though these cor- relations are far from exclusive, there is a general tendency for stelae and other artistic media to prompt viewers to re- member, reexperience, and reimagine the depicted acts in spatial settings that were the same as or comparable to those of the original events. These observations, however, do not mean that plazas were used only for public theatrical events. Various authors have proposed that some plazas were used as marketplaces (Becker 2003, 265–66; Jones 1996, 86–87; Smith 1982, 107). Although direct evidence for marketplaces is difficult to obtain, such use of plazas is not incompatible with their primary function as theatrical spaces. Even in public ceremonies, plazas may have been used in various ways. Such events appear to have involved the erection of scaffolds and other temporary struc- tures and the use of banners, movable thrones, and palan- quins, all of which affected the movements of participants and their perceptions of theatrical spaces (Houston 1998, 339; Suhler and Freidel 2000; Taube 1988). Likewise, the erection of stelae in plazas probably narrowed the potential range of human bodies’ physical flow and of the places’ meanings by emphasizing memories of specific events. The Maya in some cases reset old stelae, attempting to alter or reconstitute the effects of monuments in the physical and perceptual con- struction of theatrical spaces. The Capacities of Plazas The analysis of plazas as theatrical spaces provides an effective step for the study of public events by archaeologists, who cannot directly observe ancient performances. One way to test the notion of the use of plazas as theatrical spaces is to analyze their potential capacities. Moore (1996, 147) cites the estimated space available to individual participants, ranging from 0.46 to 21.6 m 2 /person. The lower figure would imply This content downloaded from 128.119.158.103 on Thu, 28 Mar 2013 12:09:57 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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812 Current Anthropology Volume 47, Number 5, October 2006 Figure 4. Tikal. a tightly packed area with little space for movement, whereas the higher would leave ample space around each person or a large open stage for dynamic performance. The figure of 21.6 m 2 /person, taken from data on Yanomamo ¨ villages, is probably too large, however, for the more urban situations of the Maya lowlands. Everywhere in the world, city dwellers have to endure smaller spaces than those who live in rural settings. In this article I therefore employ the figures of 0.46, 1, and 3.6 m 2 /person. Moore did not find a consistent cor-
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  • Fall '08
  • SUGERMAN
  • Maya civilization, JSTOR Terms, Mesoamerican chronology, public events, Theatrical events, Great Plaza

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