Although anthropologists have been observing and analyzing the religious practices of Mayan people for about a hundred years, this perceptive study suggests that anthropological interpretation of those practices and of Maya cosmology has never escaped the epistemological influence of Christianity. Whereas the objects used in Christian rituals are treated with reverence, such ritual objects as Mayan crosses can be used, reused, enshrined, communicated with or manipulated, disregarded, or destroyed - the apparent equivalent of defacing the image of Christ or the Virgin Mary. Astor-Aguilera holds that we cannot understand these practices by trying to fit them into a European Cartesian mindset but must instead recognize and try to understand indigenous Mayan epistemology. The western concept of religion, he suggests, is not the framework for understanding Mayan cosmology or practice. Using ethnographic, archaeological, and glyphic evidence, he traces modern Mayan attitudes toward sacrality and sacred objects back to Classic Maya beliefs. No scholar of Maya religion, archaeology, or history can afford to overlook this long overdue approach to a widely misunderstood subject.
Miguel-Angel Sicilia is an associate professor, Computer Science Department at the University of Alcala. He is currently the head of the Information Engineering research unit, where he leads several European and national research projects in the topics of learning technology and Semantic Web. He obtained a University degree in Computer Science from the Pontifical University of Salamanca in Madrid, Spain and a PhD from Carlos III University. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Metadata, Semantics and Ontologies, published by Inderscience, and serves as member of editorial board of many other scientific journals in the area of Semantic Web, Computational Intelligence and Information Systems. He has been active in metadata research and was awarded the 2006 Cyc prize for the best research paper. Dr. Sicilia leads the Special Interest Group on Reusable Learning Objects (SIGRLO) in the Association for Information Systems, and chairs the SPDECE conference series, the premier latin-american pluri-disciplinary event on learning objects.