AAA Annual Meeting Program

AAA Annual Meeting Program Details


View Session Details
Poster Information:
Type: Poster
Poster Title: EVERY EARTH IS FIT FOR BURIAL: ANCIENT MAYA CHULTUNES AS BURIAL CHAMBERS
Author: ANDREW WYATT, JOHN TOMASIC (Vanderbilt University)   
Date/Time: Sat., 1:45 PM-3:30 PM
Co-Author(s): ANDREW WYATT, JOHN TOMASIC (Vanderbilt University) 
Abstract: Accepted wisdom considers chultunes – artificially constructed underground chambers found throughout the Maya area – as storage chambers for food or water. While researchers have proposed alternatives over the years, including sweatbaths or sites for the fermentation of alcoholic beverages, storage chambers are considered the typical function. However, empirical evidence provides little support for this hypothesis. Chultunes are often found with burials or other ritual artifacts, or they are locations for the disposal or refuse, indicating that their primary function has ceased. Excavations in chultunes instead suggest a ritual role, with burials as the most likely primary function. Artifactual and iconographic evidence indicates that chultunes are artificial caves; at the same time, glyphic and iconographic evidence has also demonstrated that caves are sites of ritual importance, often associated with burials. Too, interring individuals in artificial underground chambers is a common practice with archaeological cultures throughout Mesoamerica. This paper will explore the hypothesis that chultunes are burial chambers associated with both commoner and elite households, and are found in areas with few or inaccessible caves. Evidence for this comes from excavations and the analysis of artifacts in chultunes at sites throughout the Maya area. By presenting evidence that chultunes are ritually significant I propose that additional care should be taken during excavations, and that a greater focus should be placed on chultunes in archaeological explorations.

Program Number: 4-0650
Session Title: MESOAMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Sat., 1:45 PM-3:30 PM
Organizer(s): ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM COMMITTEE (AAA) 
View Session Details


Schedule-at-a-Glance

If you have any questions about the program, please contact the AAA Meetings Department at aaameetings@aaanet.org.