Human Sacrifice, Militarism, and Rulership: Materialization of State Ideology at the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, Teotihuacan

Human Sacrifice, Militarism, and Rulership: Materialization of State Ideology at the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, Teotihuacan

Hardback New Studies in Archaeology

By (author) Saburo Sugiyama


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  • Format: Hardback | 300 pages
  • Dimensions: 175mm x 249mm x 28mm | 635g
  • Publication date: 25 April 2005
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 052178056X
  • ISBN 13: 9780521780568
  • Illustrations note: 2 tables
  • Sales rank: 1,664,789

Product description

Teotihuacan was one of the earliest and more populous preColumbian cities, and the Feathered Serpent was its vital monument, erected circa 200 AD. This work explores the religious meanings and political implications of the pyramid with meticulous and thorough analyses of substantially new excavation data. Challenging the traditional view of the city as a legendary, sacred, or anonymously-governed centre, the book provides significant new insights on the Teotihuacan polity and society. It provides interpretations on the pyramid's location, architecture, sculptures, iconography, mass sacrificial graves and rich symbolic offerings, and concludes that the pyramid commemorated the accession of rulers who were inscribed to govern with military force on behalf of the gods. This archaeological examination of the monument shows it to be the physical manifestation of state ideologies such as the symbolism of human sacrifice, militarism, and individual-centred divine authority, ideologies which were later diffused among other Mesoamerican urban centres.

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Author information

Saburo Sugiyama is a Professor in the Graduate School of International Cultural Studies, Aichi Prefectural University, Japan. He has contributed to a number of edited works on Mesoamerican archaeology including Mesoamerican Archaeology: Theory and Practice (Blackwell Publishing, 2003).

Review quote

'This is a remarkable achievement and will be a deeply influential contribution to all future discussions of Teotihuacan.' Dr David Freidel, Southern Methodist University

Table of contents

1. Introduction: cognition of state symbols and polity; 2. Background: data and ideation; 3. The Ciudadela and the city layout; 4. Architecture and sculpture; 5. Burials; 6. Offerings; 7. Overview: sacrificial and elite burials; 8. Conclusion: Feathered Serpent Pyramid as symbol of sacrifice, militarism, and rulership.