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POLITICAL STRUCTURE, MILITARY TRAINING, AND IDEOLOGY AT CHICHEN ITZA

  • Claude-François Baudez (a1) and Nicolas Latsanopoulos (a2)
Abstract

According to our reconstruction of the sociopolitics of tenth-century Chichen Itza, the polity was ruled by a paramount king who identified himself with the sun. A high priest, the second-ranking figure, stood by the king's side. A political and military elite, with an S-shaped serpent as its emblem, shared power with these top figures. Finally, the whole community of warriors was treated as a collective corps with important religious and political responsibilities. The iconography of the Temple of the Wall Panels depicts the initiation of jaguar knights by a warrior figure designated as Serpent Jaguar. The same individual, also represented and designated on the slab covering the cache buried in the upper temple, was assisted or controlled by personages who ranked above him. The panels illustrate the destiny of the jaguar-warriors after their glorious death, first as they accompany the rising sun and, later, as they transform themselves into birds. This interpretation appears very close to the destiny of the dead Aztec warriors as recounted by Sahagún and other chroniclers. The butterfly/bird theme, associated with warriors, indicates that similar beliefs were current at Teotihuacan. The Temple of the Wall Panels, too small to be a telpochcalli was probably a house used by warriors, as indicated by its images and its distinctive architecture, which are shared at the same site by the Temple of the Warriors.

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Corresponding author
E-mail correspondence to: claude.Baudez@orange.fr, nlatsa@hotmail.com
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Ancient Mesoamerica
  • ISSN: 0956-5361
  • EISSN: 1469-1787
  • URL: /core/journals/ancient-mesoamerica
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