AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: A ROYAL BURIAL RITUAL IN CLAY: THE FIGURINE TABLEAU FROM BURIAL #39, EL PERU-WAKA', PETEN, GUATEMALA
Author: MICHELLE RICH (Southern Methodist University), DAVID FREIDEL (Southern Methodist University), F REILLY (Texas State University )   
Date/Time: Sun., 9:00 AM
Co-Author(s): MICHELLE RICH (Southern Methodist University), DAVID FREIDEL (Southern Methodist University), F REILLY (Texas State University ) 
Abstract: In 2006, an elaborate assemblage of 23 ceramic figurines was discovered in the Mirador Group at El Peru-Waka’, representing the first scientifically-excavated in situ figurine scene from the Maya Classic period. The figurines were found inside a vaulted tomb chamber, and though extraordinary, they are only one component of a collection of fine objects assembled by mourners to accompany an epigraphically-unknown ruler of Waka’ into the afterlife. Situated at the ruler’s feet on the tomb’s stone bench, the figurines were purposefully arranged in a well-ordered circle. The men and women wear garb and carry accoutrements identifying them as dancers, scribes, a king and queen, and a deceased king accompanied by an anthropomorphic deer. This human congregation surrounds a small gathering of figurines with supernatural characteristics: a frog, a hunchback scribe and several dwarves. For ancient Mesoamericans, dwarves and frogs are among the beings inhabiting the place between the terrestrial and supernatural worlds. We postulate the scene represents a royal resurrection ritual during which a portal is opened to allow the soul of the deceased king – both the figurine avatar and the actual decedent – to move from this world to the Otherworld. Those who selected the mortuary assemblage and arranged the figurines thus provided a “snapshot” of a Maya royal ritual. By taking these objects out of circulation and including them in this tomb context, these ancient Wakeños preserved a scene that encapsulates and reiterates the passage from one world to the next.

Program Number: 5-0195
Session Title: MAYAN POLITICS AND POWER
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Sun., 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Organizer(s): ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM COMMITTEE (AAA) 
Chair(s): KRISTIN LANDAU (Northwestern University)  
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