I'm a PhD student researching the role of mortuary archaeology in contemporary British society. Think of this as a scrapbook of all the interesting links, snippets of information and random bits and bobs I come across pertaining to death, dying and the dead. Enjoy?!


Maya Royal Tombs Found With Rare Woman Ruler

A woman ruler’s skeleton—her head mysteriously placed between two bowls—is one of two royal burials recently found at the Maya ruins of Nakum in Guatemala.
The roughly 2,000-year-old tomb was found underneath another, 1,300-year-old tomb filled with treasures such as jade gorgets—normally used to protect the throat—beads, and ceremonial knives.
The upper tomb’s corpse had been badly destroyed by rodents within the last few centuries, but the body was clearly that of another Maya ruler—perhaps another female, based on the small size of a ring found in that tomb.
(See "Bowls of Fingers, Baby Victims, More Found in Maya Tomb.")
The royal burials are the first discovered in Nakum, once a densely packed Maya center. Study co-author Wiesław Koszkul and colleagues have been investigating Nakum’s surroundings, known as the Cultural Triangle, for decades. (Explore an interactive map of key Maya sites.)
"We think this structure was something like a mausoleum for the royal lineage for at least 400 years," said Koszkul, of the Jagiellonian University Institute of Archaeology in Krakow, Poland.
The Maya royal-tomb discoveries are described in the September issue of the journal Antiquity.

Click through to see more amazing photographs…

Maya Royal Tombs Found With Rare Woman Ruler

A woman ruler’s skeleton—her head mysteriously placed between two bowls—is one of two royal burials recently found at the Maya ruins of Nakum in Guatemala.

The roughly 2,000-year-old tomb was found underneath another, 1,300-year-old tomb filled with treasures such as jade gorgets—normally used to protect the throat—beads, and ceremonial knives.

The upper tomb’s corpse had been badly destroyed by rodents within the last few centuries, but the body was clearly that of another Maya ruler—perhaps another female, based on the small size of a ring found in that tomb.

(See "Bowls of Fingers, Baby Victims, More Found in Maya Tomb.")

The royal burials are the first discovered in Nakum, once a densely packed Maya center. Study co-author Wiesław Koszkul and colleagues have been investigating Nakum’s surroundings, known as the Cultural Triangle, for decades. (Explore an interactive map of key Maya sites.)

"We think this structure was something like a mausoleum for the royal lineage for at least 400 years," said Koszkul, of the Jagiellonian University Institute of Archaeology in Krakow, Poland.

The Maya royal-tomb discoveries are described in the September issue of the journal Antiquity.

Click through to see more amazing photographs…

Maya Death Rituals

ellamorte:

The Maya are thought of as religious people, who lived in fear of the destructive nature of their gods. Death rituals became an important part of their religion; they developed many traditions to commemorate the recently deceased and worship long-departed ancestors. The Maya greatly respected death; they were taught to fear it and grieved deeply for the dead. They also believed that certain deaths were more noble than others; for example, people who died by suicide, sacrifice, complications of childbirth and in battle were thought to be transported directly into heaven. The guilty and evil suffered eternally in Xilbalba, the Maya underworld. Otherwise, death was thought of as a journey, with the possibility of rebirth. The Maya believed that certain individuals, important to their lineage, became deities that acted as patrons for the surviving family and many subsequent generations.

The Maya dead were laid to rest with maize placed in their mouth. Maize, highly important in Maya culture, is a symbol of rebirth and also was food for the dead for the journey to the otherworld. Similarly, a jade or stone bead placed in the mouth served as currency for this journey. Often, whistles carved from rocks into the shapes of gods or animals were included in the grave offerings to help the deceased find their way to the spirit world. The Maya associated the color red with death and rebirth and often covered graves and skeletal remains with cinnabar. The bodies of the dead were wrapped in cotton mantles before being buried. Burial sites were oriented to provide access to the otherworld. Graves faced north or west, in the directions of the Maya heavens, and others were located in caves, believed to be entrances to the underworld.

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Human Sacrifice Found in Maya City Sinkhole

archaeologicalnews:

The bones of six humans—including two children—jade beads, shells, and stone tools are among the Maya “treasures” recently found in a water-filled cave off a sinkhole at the famous archaeological site of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, archaeologists say.

The ancient objects are most likely related to a ritual human sacrifice during a time when water levels were lower, sometime between A.D. 850 and 1250, the researchers say. Read more.