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  • Christian M. Prager (a1) and Geoffrey E. Braswell (a2)


We describe a remarkable artifact discovered during our 2015 excavations at the Maya site of Nim li Punit, Belize. It is a T-shaped jade pectoral worn on the chest by ancient Maya kings during rites in which they scattered copal incense (Figure 1). These rituals are described or depicted on six carved stone monuments (stelae) at the site. What is more, two stelae at the site depict rulers wearing the pectoral. The reverse side of the jade contains a long historical hieroglyphic text. Had the piece been recovered by illegal means and ended up in a private collection, much of the text would make little sense and it could not possibly be ascribed to Nim li Punit. The priceless worth of the Nim li Punit pectoral, therefore, lies not only in its hieroglyphic inscription but also in its known archaeological context and contemporary images of its use. We briefly describe that context and present a translation of the important text on the jade pectoral, which we interpret as a “wind jewel.”


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