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Violence, desecration, and urban collapse at the Postclassic Maya political capital of Mayapán

journal contribution
posted on 14.03.2018, 00:00 by EH Paris, Stanley Serafin, MA Masson, C Peraza Lope, C Vidal Guzmán, BW Russell
This article presents evidence from a mass grave at the Itzmal Ch’en administrative group, an outlying ceremonial center at the Postclassic period Maya political center of Mayapán, Yucatan, Mexico. The grave contains the remains of at least 20 individuals, likely the group’s elite patrons. The remains were subject to extensive postmortem treatment that included butchering, burning, and scattering, along with ritual paraphernalia and midden debris. The deposit is significant in the context of the city’s prolonged sociopolitical collapse, as radiocarbon evidence suggests that the deposit predates the final abandonment of the city. The shallow grave is instead associated with an ethnohistorically-documented period of internal conflict from between CE 1302 and 1400. More broadly, we evaluate the Itzmal Ch’en mass grave as a rare form of mortuary deposit in the Maya region, an example of desecration and ritual violence. The abandoned ceremonial plaza and grave site would have represented a macabre monument to a period of violent conflict in the city’s history that would have been visible to the city’s remaining occupants for the last half century prior to Mayapán’s final abandonment.

History

Volume

48

Start Page

63

End Page

86

Number of Pages

24

ISSN

0278-4165

Publisher

Academic Press, USA

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

Acceptance Date

18/06/2017

External Author Affiliations

University of Calgary, University at Albany SUNY, Centro INAH - Yucatán Mexico, University of Colorado - Boulder, College of Saint Rose

Era Eligible

Yes

Journal

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

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