Art & Art History ETDs


Laurie Castro

Publication Date



In the past hundred years the significance and function of the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican stone yoke have been widely discussed. Although it is now generally believed that the stone yoke is related in some way to the Mesoamerican ball­game, the precise role of the yoke is still not completely understood. In this study, the principle motifs of 53 stone yokes are examined and their iconography analyzed in an attempt to come to a better understanding of their relationship with and their use in the pre-Hispanic mesoamerican ballgame.

In attempting to interpret the various motifs characteristic of stone yokes from the Middle Classic period, the water and water-related iconography of Classic period Mesoamerica and Teotihuacan are thoroughly explored. The role of the ballgame, as well as that of major religious, political, and economic trends in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican society through­out the Classic and post-Classic periods, are also investigated.

Through this cross-disciplinary approach, the main motifs of the 53 stone yokes surveyed in this study were placed into iconographic categories and analyzed in terms of their individual motifs. These yokes were also assigned impres­sionistic dates on the basis of the types of scroll-work pat­terns and physical shapes characteristic of the individual examples and the temporal appearance of each motif in the religious iconography of Mesoamerica.



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Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Mary Elizabeth Smith

Second Committee Member

Douglas Roland George

Third Committee Member

Howard David Rodee