In Spearthrower Owl, David Stuart revisits his studies of Early Classic Maya history during the third and fourth centuries CE, when Teotihuacan exerted strong political control over Tikal and other dynastic centers of the central Maya Lowlands. He emphasizes a dominant player of the time, a powerful figure widely known as “Spearthrower Owl” (a name perhaps better read as “Eagle Striker”). Stuart looks closely at the written evidence that points to Spearthrower Owl’s role as a long-lived historical ruler of Teotihuacan who reigned between 374 and 439 CE. The ruler had close family ties to Tikal’s dynasty, which may go far in accounting for his involvement in Maya affairs starting in 378, as well as his legacy within the militaristic imagery and ideology of later generations of Maya rulers. This new study is essential for understanding the long-standing debates about Teotihuacan–Maya relations, proposing what amounts to a new historical dimension within Teotihuacan’s archaeology.
David Stuart is Schele Professor of Mesoamerican Art and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin.