Death and the Classic Maya Kings by James L. Fitzsimmons

By James L. Fitzsimmons

Like their regal opposite numbers in societies around the world, historic Maya rulers departed this international with intricate burial ceremonies and extravagant grave items, which frequently integrated ceramics, pink pigments, earflares, stingray spines, jades, pearls, obsidian blades, and mosaics. Archaeological research of those burials, in addition to the decipherment of inscriptions that checklist Maya rulers' funerary rites, have opened a desirable window on how the traditional Maya envisaged the ruler's passage from the area of the dwelling to the world of the ancestors. targeting the vintage interval (AD 250-900), James Fitzsimmons examines and compares textual and archaeological facts for rites of dying and burial within the Maya lowlands, from which he creates versions of royal Maya funerary habit. Exploring old Maya attitudes towards dying expressed at famous websites corresponding to Tikal, Guatemala, and Copan, Honduras, in addition to less-explored archaeological destinations, Fitzsimmons reconstructs royal mortuary rites and expands our figuring out of key Maya thoughts together with the afterlife and ancestor veneration.

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Natural features were supernatural in aspect. Breathing clouds or eating sacrificial victims (Figure 5), caves and mountains were ubiquitous, facially expressive subjects of Maya art and architecture. This lack of distinction between the supernatural and natural worlds is further complicated by the fact that Mesoamerican peoples consider the earth to be a place of death. “Lineage mountains” and caves play a significant role in contemporary Maya ancestor worship, and they clearly served a similar purpose during the Classic Period.

The first of these, by Estella Weiss-Krejci and T. Patrick Culbert, addresses a broad lowland sample of Maya burials and defines royal burials by the statistical frequency of tombs, ceramics in large quantity (>13), red pigments, earflares, stingray spines, jades in large quantity, pearls, obsidian blades, and mosaics. In this study, there is a broad correlation between the first six of these categories, with smaller frequencies of the latter three. , identifies a royal burial based on a series of similarities with other high-status interments at the site.

Some of the same burial practices, in terms of grave goods (albeit on a much smaller and poorer scale), were indeed shared on a number of status levels. Accordingly, general concepts of an afterlife, whatever the status of the individual, were probably active for the descendants of the dead. Whether this Underworld was viewed as the horrific Xibalba or a place of “food and drinks of great sweetness”  will be discussed in the sections to come. indb 16 10/30/08 12:37:50 PM t wo death and the afterlife in the lowlands s observed by Alfredo López Austin in his seminal work, The Human Body and Ideology, Central Mexican peoples of the Colonial Period saw mortality as an acquired attribute.

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