The Captive Body in Ancient Maya Art: Bound in Rope, Bound in Stone


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art History

Named Award

ACLS H. and T. King Fellow in Ancient American Art and Culture named award


This book project explores the motif of the captive in Late Classic (600-900 CE) Maya stone sculpture. Through a close analysis of the style, iconography, and context of over 300 depictions of captured enemies from throughout the Maya area, it demonstrates that captives in ancient Maya art were not just symbols of defeat. Instead, depictions of captives endowed the king with the right to rule, constructed specific social identities for viewers, and ensured world order through their participation in sacrificial ritual. Drawing from theory on the agency of stone sculpture, this study reveals new information about embodied interactions between sculpture and viewers in the Ancient Americas, and the ability of art to construct and reflect lived experiences in the ancient Maya world.