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Architecture and Placemaking at a Northern Maya City

Title: Architecture and Placemaking at a Northern Maya City: Ek' Balam and the Question of Style.
Name(s): Lundy, Heather Darlene, author
Carrasco, Michael, professor directing dissertation
Herrera, Robinson A., 1966-, university representative
Niell, Paul B., 1976-, committee member
Bearor, Karen A. (Karen Anne), 1950-, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Fine Arts, degree granting college
Department of Art History, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2016
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (308 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Ek’ Balam’s ceremonial precinct offers what appears at first glance to be an interesting bricolage of architectural styles and anomalies. In this dissertation I examine the amalgamation of styles through the concept of placemaking and argue that through placemaking the built environment at Ek’ Balam appears less unusual and more as a specific approach to meaning-making in the built environment. This dissertation is a monograph on the site of Ek’ Balam that examines the architecture attributed to the dynastic founder, Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’ and how he and his polity constructed meaning through the use of and mixing of specific architectural styles. I argue that the architectural landscape at Ek’ Balam introduced an important medium for this powerful discourse as a process of meaning-making at the inter-site and intra-site level. Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’, meaning the “Father of the Four Hard Flints,” becomes a principal actor in the creation of place and meaning-making by selecting and combining various styles to craft a city that was altogether different. The rulers of Ek’ Balam separated and divorced styles from their original geographic spheres, marginalized those forms to the periphery, and reformed them into a new aggregate ecology. Most importantly, by gathering all of the known data about Ek’ Balam in one place we can better identify and appreciate how Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’ specifically appropriated and mixed styles to project a unique vision of his rule. Placemaking refers to a particular strategy, both multi-faceted and complex. In this dissertation I define placemaking as a process involved in the planning and design of ancient Maya cities, as well as the treatment and handling of the built environment, its masonry forms, texts, and visual representations, over time. The notion of placemaking describes the relationships that people have to a specific place and the realization of those connections, as well as the relationships among people within the space of place formation. Sometimes activities involved in forming, renovating, and representing a place are unremarkable and discreet while at other times these appear superbly dramatic, like those made at the site of Ek’ Balam under the reign of Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’. What may appear to some as a minor, unremarkable site with an assortment of masonry forms, the architectural choices made by the dynastic founder at Ek’ Balam invested power in his reign and imagined on the most impressive stage the eternal reprise of his grandest moment – his rebirth as a divine ancestor through the symbolic jaws of the earth monster crafted in stone on the south-facing façade of GT-1. Lastly, I argue based on oseteological, epigraphic, and iconographical evidence that Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’ arrived as a foreigner from the Rio Bec or Chenes heartlands and that the architectural landscape at Ek’ Balam reflects the network of relationships he maintained with the Northern Plains, the peninsula as a whole, and the Maya world further to the south. In addition to the famous zoomorphic façade of GT-1 at Ek’ Balam, Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’ scattered features of the Rio Bec and Chenes heartlands throughout his city, including rounded corners, columns, and false stairs. Not only do these elements reveal his place of origin, but they inscribe meaning on the built environment through Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’s relationship to distant pensinular cities. In this dissertation I present Ek’ Balam and its built environment in its richness and complexity. The architectural, artistic, and epigraphic evidence unearths the social and political relationships maintained by Ek’ Balam and its preeminent ruler, Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’.
Identifier: FSU_2016SU_Lundy_fsu_0071E_13328 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Art History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester 2016.
Date of Defense: April 15, 2016.
Keywords: Ek' Balam, Maya architecture, Placemaking
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Michael D. Carrasco, Professor Directing Dissertation; Robinson Herrera, University Representative; Paul Niell, Committee Member; Karen Bearor, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Art -- History
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Lundy, H. D. (2016). Architecture and Placemaking at a Northern Maya City: Ek' Balam and the Question of Style. Retrieved from