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 Maya stelae

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Number of posts : 409
Registration date : 2010-11-14

PostSubject: Maya stelae   Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:55 pm

Maya stelae (singular stela) are monuments that were fashioned by the Maya civilization of ancient Mesoamerica. They consist of tall sculpted stone shafts and are often associated with low circular stones referred to as altars, although their actual function is uncertain.[2] Many stelae were sculpted in low relief,[3] although plain monuments are found throughout the Maya region.[4] The sculpting of these monuments spread throughout the Maya area during the Classic Period (250–900 AD),[2] and these pairings of sculpted stelae and circular altars are considered a hallmark of Classic Maya civilization.[5] The earliest dated stela to have been found in situ in the Maya lowlands was recovered from the great city of Tikal in Guatemala.[6] During the Classic Period almost every Maya kingdom in the southern lowlands raised stelae in its ceremonial centre.[4]

Stelae became closely associated with the concept of divine kingship and declined at the same time as this institution. The production of stelae by the Maya had its origin around 400 BC and continued through to the end of the Classic Period, around 900 AD, although some monuments were reused in the Postclassic (c. 900–1521 AD). The major city of Calakmul in Mexico raised the greatest number of stelae known from any Maya city, numbering at least 166, although they are very poorly preserved.[7]

Hundreds of stelae have been recorded in the Maya region,[8] displaying a wide stylistic variation.[4] Many are upright slabs of limestone sculpted on one or more faces,[4] with available surfaces sculpted with figures carved in relief and with hieroglyphic text.[3] Stelae in a few sites display a much more three dimensional appearance where locally available stone permits, such as at Copán and Toniná.[4] Plain stelae do not appear to have been painted nor overlaid with stucco decoration,[9] but most Maya stelae were probably brightly painted in red, yellow, black, blue and other colours.[10]

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