S. Houston – Feb. 6

Sight, Darkness, Secrecy:
Sensory Complications in Maya Archaeology

A public lecture by Professor Stephen D. Houston (Brown University)
Time: February 6, 2012 at Noon
Location: Student Activity Center 5.118

Abstract: The human senses access and process stimuli from a variety of sources. This talk, which focuses on evidence from the Classic Maya, attends to the abridgement of one sense in particular, that of sight, and to the calculated withholding of input. For Classic elites, seeing was understood as a validating form of witness. It was also, it seems, a creative and inceptional act.  What then, did the ancient Maya make of darkness, invisibility, and further acts of withholding?  What was a “secret,” knowledge revealed to few, and how was withholding, showing, and seeing managed in the buildings and habitual spaces of the Classic Maya?  Evidence brought to bear will include glyphic texts, archaeology, more recent language, and the comparative anthropology of secrecy.

Select publications:

Houston, Stephen D., David Stuart, and Karl A. Taube. 2006. The memory of bones: body, being, and experience among the classic Maya. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Houston, Stephen D. et al. 2009 Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color. Austin: University of Texas Press.