Recent archaeological investigations at Tipan Chen Uitz, Belize, yielded two remarkable Classic Maya ballplayer panels. Iconographic and glyphic analysis of these panels within a regional context provides new insights into large-scale socio-political relationships, demonstrating that the ballgame was an important means and mechanism for macro-political affiliation in the Maya Lowlands. The panels suggest that Tipan was part of a wider system of vassalage that tied it to other Maya centres, including Naranjo, a regional capital under the dominion of Calakmul where the Snake-Head dynasty held sway. The data presented here underpin a more general discussion of archaeological approaches to ancient interaction spheres.
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