Although little known, the radial pyramid is one of the most important and widespread architectural forms of the Classic Maya culture. The radial pyramid is found in many sites of the Central Maya area, often incorporated into standardized assemblages. Both the association between radial pyramids and astronomical observation, and the open character of radial-associated assemblages, suggest that these structures were designed for public participation in rituals regulated by the solar or agricultural calendar. The ritual motions performed on or around radial pyramids were probably understood as acts of sympathetic magic. A comparison with Aztec ritual indicates that among other uses, the Maya would have employed the radial pyramid for the ritual establishment of the axis mundi in equinoctial ceremonies. The public nature of radial-associated assemblages, as well as the rigidity of form, orientation, and arrangement of the component structures, are shown to contrast with the qualities of Maya dynastic architectural assemblages such as the temple and palace acropolises.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.