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REVISITING MAYAPAN: Mexico's last Maya capital

  • Susan Milbrath (a1) and Carlos Peraza Lope (a2)
Abstract

Archaeological excavations begun at Mayapan in 1996 require re-evaluation of this site, sometimes disparaged as representing “decadent” Postclassic Maya culture. New discoveries show that the site was an international center that incorporated specific symbols in its art from areas as far away as Central Mexico and Oaxaca. Indeed, there is evidence of trade with both areas. Another important Postclassic trade route connected Mayapan to Yucatan's eastern coast and Peten, Guatemala. These connections are reflected in similar ceramics and architecture in the three areas. Revival of Terminal Classic traditions at Mayapan inspired certain architectural constructions and a stela cult marking Katun endings. The Katun-cycle chronologies of the Colonial period provide intriguing evidence that political events at Mayapan may be linked with the site's architectural history. The “founding” of Mayapan may have occurred earlier than the conventionally accepted date of a.d. 1263 (end of Katun 13 Ahau). The Chilam Balam of Chumayel chronicles use of a 24-year Katun instead of a Katun of 20 Tuns, suggesting that the earliest founding event at Mayapan (Katun 8 Ahau) may date back to the eleventh century a.d. and overlap with the demise of Chichen Itza. Some of Mayapan's earliest architecture is contemporary with Chichen Itza's latest constructions. Several hundred years after Mayapan was founded, there was a renaissance of the Cocom heritage evident in specific architectural forms modeled on those from Chichen Itza.

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E-mail correspondence to: milbrath@flmnh.ufl.edu
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Ancient Mesoamerica
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