Lords of the Northern Maya

Dynastic History in the Inscriptions of Uxmal and Chichen Itza

By: Jeff Karl Kowalski

Originally Published in 1985

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During the past thirty years significant advances have been made in the inter­pretation of Maya hieroglyphic writing. The glyphic inscriptions, formerly thought to pertain exclu­sively to calendrical, astronomical, and ritual matters, are now recog­nized to he also records of human history, recounting the principal events in the lives of the rulers of the Maya cities (Proskouriakoff 1961). Here I summarize what is currently known about the histor­ical content of the inscriptions of the two major northern Maya sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza. Al­though the texts of these northern centers are less well known than those of the southern sites and have sometimes been described as largely untranslatable or foreign-looking (i.e., non-Maya; Andrews 1965: 307), there is now ample evi­dence that they are purely Maya and record dynastic history. The historical content of these inscrip­tions has been discussed by Kelley (1968, 1976, 1982), who first sug­gested that the name Kakupacal ap­peared in the Chichen inscriptions; by Davoust (1980), cites one of these examples as the appellative phrase for his proposed ruler “Bolon I Imix,” but the T558 Imix glyph precedes “Yax T’ul’s” name and appears to be a title rather than a day name (Kelley 1982: 6).

The parallel clause on L.6 of the Monjas refers to the personage Da­voust designates as “Yax Muluc Kuk.” Kelley (1982: 6) prefers mu to matte and points out that the T604 glyph which Davoust reads as kuk is phonetic ku, although it may be used here as a determinative in­dicating the reading kuk. One of the titles of this ruler may be read as ah man cal, which Kelley (1982: 6) suggests could mean “he of the power of heaven.” This title seems to be associated with that preceding it, which is the head device and flares of God K (Beyer 1937: 99-100, fig. 410). This suggests that “Yax MuIuc Kuk” adopted the name of God K as one of his titles or epithets.

“Muluc Jawbone Variant” ap­pears at the end of a similar clause on L.5 of the Monjas, while L.3 of the Monjas mentions a woman, Davoust’s “Lady Ix Tanlah,” in a re­lated passage (Fig. 15). Kelley (1982: 6) prefers to call this woman “Lady Kuk,” suggesting that her personal name is given by the du­plicated ku (T604) glyphs at posi­tion Dl. This woman is also men­tioned at the Temple of the One Lintel, where a doubled quetzal head substitutes fear the phonetic ku-k(u). On L.3 of the Monjas “Lady Kuk’s” name phrase is fol­lowed by a glyph consisting of a bat head with no (T23) prefix. Mathews (1980: 61) has demonstrated that this is a kinship term, which in sonic cases names the relationship between a mother and son. On the central panel of the lintel the first name following that of “Lady Kuk” is that of Kakupacal, suggesting that he is her son. At the Temple of the One Lintel this na-bat head glyph stands between “Lady Kuk” and the figure called “Kin-Cimi.” The name of “Jawbone-Longbone” ap­parently precedes that of “Lady Kuk” on this lintel, and the two names are also paired on block 11 of the Caracol Frieze. Kelley (1982: 6-7) states that this combination of evidence suggests that Kakupacal and “Kin-Cimi” were both sons of “Jawbone-Longbone” and “Lady Kuk,” although he points out that L.4 of the Temple of the Four Lintels can be taken to show that Kakupacal and “Kin-Cimi” were step-brothers.

“Kin-Cimi” is referred to in stan­dard passages on L.2 and L.4a of the Temple of the Four Lintels. Kelley (1982: 7, fig. 2) has also shown that two other figures, “Double Jawbone” and a personage (“Lord Chac”?) whose main glyph incorporates the T668 rain god sign, are associated with such clauses on L.3 of the Temple of the Four Lintels and L.3a of the Monjas, respectively.

The other male historical figures, “Au Muluc Tok,” “Bo’xel, and “Jawbone-Fan,” have been identi­fied by tying their names to those of recognized figures by means of various relationship glyphs, Or by connecting them with recognized titles. “Jawbone-Fan” is referred to several times on the Akab Dzib lintel (, A. D. 880, GMT), and the seated figure on this monument is probably this ruler (Fig. 16). The Akab Dzib text opens with a possible title (Ah Batab) (Kelley 1976: 18.5, 242) or introduc­tory verb (Schele 1982), Followed by a moon sign title (Ah Kalaan?) (Barthel 1964: 227; Kelley 1976: 242). Next is the name of “Jaw­bone-Fan,” followed by a glyph composed of a hafted axe and Kan sign. This is another title, which Kelley (1982: fig. 3) reads as Bat Kan. At B1 the title Nabte (military governor?) appears, succeeded by Ahpo Ahau. Kelley (1968; 1976: 218-219) has suggested that the Ahpo Ahau combination possibly functioned as an emblem glyph (perhaps of Chichen Itza), or that this glyph should be interpreted as making a broader claim to sover­eignty (Kelley 1982: 8).

When the Chichen Itza inscrip­tions are compared with One an­other we find that several per­sonages may be referred to in one building in connection with a single date (e.g., the Monjas), that some of the same individuals are men­tioned in other buildings associated with other dates, and that parallel statements are made about both men and women. Davoust main­tained that at the Monjas either a series of descendants were linked to a common ancestor, Kakupacal, or Kakupacal made a series of sim­ilar statements about his ancestors. Both Davoust and Kelley (1982: 7-8) feel that the latter is inure probable. It is significant that no sutz-lu-na—ah pacab clause iden­tifies Kakupacal. It seems probable that the primary dates mentioned on the lintels refer to rituals per­formed to honor Kakupacal’s an­cestors (thus designated as “he or she of the lintel”) at the time of the formal dedication of a new struc­ture. “Jawbone-Fan” is not referred to in such a clause either, although he bears several important titles and is an Aim pa Ahau lord. This suggests that he was also alive when his name was mentioned on the texts of the Akab Dzib and the Casa Colorada. It is difficult to determine the precise nature of the rituals celebrated in these buildings, but Barthel (1955:14-15) has demonstrated several parallels between passages in the Casa Colorada and passages in the Dresden Codex dealing with fire drilling. Kelley (1982: 5, 10) has pointed out that fire ceremonialism and a title ah kak (“he or she of the fire,” perhaps related to the colo­nial period title “the burner”) is featured prominently in the Chi­chen inscriptions.

who has re­cently identified a number of indi­viduals, male and female, in the Chichen inscriptions; and by Ko­walski (in press), who examined the dynastic content of the Uxmal in­scriptions. These historical refer­ences differ slightly from those in the south, in that they do not refer to successive events in a ruler’s life such as birth, accession, or death. Many dates are also recorded in the Tun-Ahau system different from the Initial Series and distance number schemes common in the south. Kelley (1982: 1) has, however, pointed out that these “variant methods of recording dates do not involve important calendrical dif­ferences, but rather a slight shift in emphasis.”

An important historical inscrip­tion from Uxmal occurs on a small, cylindrical monument known as Uxmal Altar 10 (Figs. 1, 2) (Pollock 1980: 275), where emblem glyphs appear at B2, A4, and B5. In 1958 Heinrich Berlin demonstrated that Maya sites are named by specific emblem glyphs, which are com­posed of the following principal parts:

(1) A main sign that varies from site to site, with two constant groups of affixes attached;

(2)the so-called “Ben-Ich” superfix (phonetic ahpo);

(3)a prefix of the so-called “water group” as defined by Thompson (1960: 276, fig. 43; 1962:445, T32-41) (Fig. 3)

On Uxmal Altar 10 the glyph at B2 has typical emblem affixes. The main sign is the face of a young man wearing a large circular ear­plug and a close-fitting cap, or perhaps a cloth strip wrapped around the head. This is probably the emblem glyph of Uxmal.

In the second emblem glyph at A4 the prefix is a variant of the water group with a god C head (Thompson 1962: T41). The main sign most closely resembles glyph T518a or T518b (T-numbers refer to the Thompson 1962 glyph cat­alog), called the “Muluc Variant” by Thompson (1962: 119). Kelley (1982: 8) also accepts this as an em­blem glyph, but prefers to identify the main sign as an earplug glyph.

The third emblem glyph at B5 is damaged, but definitely has the T168 ahpo superfix. Kowalski (in press) has suggested that the main sign may be T518c, another of the “Muluc Variants,” like that at A4; Kelley (personal communication) questions this identification and be­lieves that the sign may be the moon glyph.

At other sites where dynastic content has been identified in the inscriptions the names and asso­ciated titles of rulers often immedi­ately precede an emblem glyph, as is the case on Uxmal Altar 10. Be­fore the final emblem glyph is a fe­male name or title. The main sign is a profile human head with a small rounded forelock and strand of hair curled about the ear which iden­tifies female name glyphs at several sites (Proskouriakoff 1961). The prefix seems to be a variant of the T110 “Bone” glyph. Because of the prominence of the “bone” element, this woman has been designated as “Lady Bone” (Kowalski in press).

“Lord Chac” and his Family

Preceding the first emblem glyph at A2 is the name glyph which designates god B, the Yu­catec Maya rain god Chac, in the codices (Thompson 1962: 264-265). The main sign has the features of a face, with a small earplug, a mouth with an undulating line at the rear, and a T-shaped eye that resembles the Ik sign. The T103 postfix is standard for the name of the rain god in the Dresden Codex, so the glyph in front of the first emblem glyph is definitely a name. Here it does not designate the rain god himself, but rather a human ruler who adopted the name of the rain god as his personal name or title.

Several lines of evidence support the identification of this god B glyph as the name or title of a Maya lord. In Maya inscriptions glyphs that name male rulers or nobles usually have zoomorphic or abstract forms, such as jaguar, serpent, shield, sky, and so forth. Aside from this general glyphic correspon­dence, there is also evidence that two of the Late Classic rulers (A and B) of Tikal incorporated the name of a long-snouted Figure, probably the rain god, as an ele­ment of their name phrases.

The most persuasive evidence supporting the identification of the god B glyph on Uxmal Altar 10 as a ruler’s name conies from the Maya chronicles, in which references are made to several pre-conquest Maya lords who bore the name of the rain god. For example, a governor of Chichen Itza was named Chac-Xib­Chac, suggesting that he was the representative of the eastern rain god (Boys 1967: 67, n. 5).

At Uxmal the name of the rain god was borne by Hun-Uitzil-Chac, said to have been the founder and first lord of the city (Rays 1943: 175). An important reference to this personage occurs in the 1581 relación of Teabo (Relaciónes de Yu­catan, 1898-1900, I: 287), while further references to Hun-Uitzil-Chac occur in the Chilam Balam of Mani, the Chilam Balam of Ti­zimin, and the Xiu Family Tree of the Xiu family papers. The god B glyph on Uxmal Altar 10 thus prob­ably refers to a ruler of the site, but this does not seem to have been Hun-Uitzil-Chac, however, so the ruler named on Altar 10 has been designated “Lord Chac” (Kowalski in press).

The name glyph at position B3 has as its main sign a head-form glyph, with recognizable mouth, circular eye, and a rounded trian­gular “ear” with three internal spots. The mouth resembles that of the god B glyph at A2, and there is some indication that a Tau-shape may have been carved inside the circular eye, indicating that god B characteristics were mixed with those of another glyph. The spotted “ear” resembles the spotted tym­panum on the frog “uinal” glyph (Thompson 1960: fig. 27). The second main sign is a variant of the so-called “Spotted Kan” glyph (Thompson 1962: 105). This glyphic compound is surely the name or title of a male ruler associated with the following emblem glyph. He has been designated as “Lord Chac-Uinal-Kan” (Kowalski in press).

Appearing at positions A3 and B4 are two identical glyphic com­pounds (T17:565a:?), incorporating. “Serpent Segment” main signs. These glyphs appear before the names of both “Lord Chac-UinaI-Kan” and “Lady Bone,” and are in­terposed between their names and that of “Lord Chac.” This suggests that they describe some similar re­lationship that exists between “Lady Bone” and “Lord Chac,” and “Lord Chac-Uinal-Kan” and “Lord Chac,” most likely that of parent and child, so the glyphic compound might have some meaning like “the child or offspring of.” The T565 “Serpent Segment” glyph appears in other glyphs identified as de­fining relationship, and at Chichen Itza it appears in a compound that links the names of individuals in a relationship context (Kelley 1982: 8, fig. 5).

Uxmal Altar 10 opens at Al with a glyphic compound (T13:501:60) which may function as a title (batab; Kelley 1976:185) or as an unspecified introductory verb (Schele 1982:156-158). The second glyph at BI is composed of a crossed-bands main sign, with a T122 prefix. The crossed bands ap­pear on an inverted jar, and the prefixed scrolls are known to repre­sent smoke or flame in several con­texts (Thompson 1962: 450; Kelley 1968a). This also appears to be a title associated with the god B glyph following at A2. Similar titles occur in the inscriptions of Pa­lenque, and at Chichen Itza, where a smoking inverted jar glyph Func­tions as a title for the ruler Kaku­pacal, but is paired with the glyph of god K rather than god B.

The first two glyphs on Uxmal Altar 10 are significant because they also appear on Stela 14 at Uxmal (Fig. 5), where the first glyph is the same T13:501:60 group as on the altar (Fig. 6). This is fol­lowed by the same smoking crossed bands on inverted jar title seen at B1 on the altar. The third glyph on Stela 14 is somewhat worn, but it is apparently com­posed of a god B main sign, with an Ik infix and a T103 subfix, virtually the same god B glyph that appears on Altar 10. This parallel sequence of glyphs indicates that the god B name on Stela 14 also refers to the ruler designated as “Lord Chac.”

Because “Lord Chac” is the person named on Stela 14, we can assume that the richly clad Maya lord depicted on this monument is a portrait of this ruler, who must have been a lord of Uxmal, since his image appears on a monument at that site and since he stands on a bicephalic jaguar throne like that found in the platform in front of the House of the Governor (Fig. 7). This confirms that the emblem glyph at B2 on Uxmal Altar 10 is the Uxmal emblem glyph.

“Lord Chac” is probably men­tioned in other inscriptions at Uxmal, Kabah, and possibly Chi­chen Itza as well. On a painted capstone from Building Y of the Nunnery Quadrangle at Uxmal a god B glyph, probably naming “Lord Chac,” appears in a register below a figural panel (Fig. 8). The capstone text concludes with a glyph that has two important com­ponents of the emblem glyph that appears at position A4 on Uxmal Altar 10; the T168 superfix and the “Muluc Variant” main sign, sug­gesting that this glyph is a con­densed form of that on the altar (Kowalski in press). The capstone contains a probable Calendar Round date of 4 Eb 5 Ceh, for which Thompson (1973: 62) has proposed the Long Count date of (A.D. 907, GMT). The Building Y capstone is similar in format, style, and theme to another painted capstone from the East Structure of the Nunnery. Although Morley (1920: 510-511) and Kelley (1982: 16) have proposed a date of for this capstone, Thompson (1973: 62) read the date as 5 Imix 18 Kankin (A. D. 906, GMT). Thompson’s readings, if correct, are in accord with the stylistic dates for Uxmal Altar 10 and Stela 14 (Proskouria­koff 1950: 164).

On the two hieroglyphic rings from the Ball Court at Uxmal are six god B name glyphs (Ruz 1958; Kowalski in press). On the south side of the west ring two god B glyphs occur at position XIII, while on the north sick of the same ring a pair appears at positions XX and XXI. Two more examples also ap­pear on newly discovered frag­ments of the east ring of the Ball Court (Kelley 1982: 15).

Although Ruz (1958: 650) sug­gested that the dates on the Uxmal rings should be placed at (A.D. 649, GMT), he noted that these dates seem too early for the Ball Court, which is stylistically and iconographically a late structure at Uxmal. After a re­examination of the east ring, Kelley (1982: 15) provided three new pos­sible readings for its date: 2 Ix 17 (written 16) Pop (A.D. 905, GMT): 11 Ix 17 Pop; and 7 Ix 17 Pop. He is in­clined to accept the first date as contemporary with the Ball Court, and accept this placement. This date (A. D. 905) falls less than two years before the first of the Nun­nery Capstone dates proposed by Thompson and is consistent with the stylistic date for Stela 14. Thus, it seems likely that “Lord Chac” is named by the god B glyphs on the Uxmal Ball Court rings (Kelley 1982: 16).

“Lord Chac” at Kabah

On the glyphic platform in front of the Codz Poop at Kabah are two emblem glyphs, that on the east side resembling the emblem glyph found at A4 on Uxmal Altar 10. In addition, there is a god B glyph, perhaps a reference to “Lord Chac” of Uxmal, on the west side, and various women’s names are found throughout the text (Kowalski in press). The presence of “Lord Chac’s” name and a shared emblem glyph on this platform suggests that close political ties existed between Uxmal and Kabah. Such bonds are also expressed by the artificial road or sacbe that originally linked the two cities.

The inscriptions connect “Lord Chac” with some major late buildings, such as the Nunnery Quadrangle and Ball Court at Uxmal, and the Codz Poop at Kabah. “Lord Chac’s” portrait on Uxmal Stela 14, depicting him sur­mounting a two-headed jaguar throne, further suggests a close connection with the House of the Governor. It seems likely that many of Uxmal’s finest late Puuc structures were begun or com­pleted during his reign.

History at Chichen Itza

Before considering the evidence for dynastic history at Chichen Itza, we should briefly discuss chro­nology. Kelley (1982: 11-12, Table 1) has listed those dates from Chi­chen Itza which seem reasonably certain. One of these is a year-bearer date from a tomb capstone which must be placed either at 6 Kan 2 Pop (A.D. 898, GMT) or at 6 Kan 2 Pop (A. D. 1469, GMT). The earlier date is preferred by Kelley (1982: 11), while Beyer (1937: 149) and Morley (1920: 520) opt for the latter. Other secure dates include the I.S. date of 9 Muluc 7 Zac (A.D. 878, GMT), as well as three dates from Yula, one from the Monjas, two from the Temple of the Four Lintels, and One from the High Priest’s Grave. The non-I.S. dates are recorded using a Calendar Round date coupled with a Tun­Ahau statement (Thompson 1937). With the exception of the date of 2 Ahau 18 Mol (A.D. 998, GMT) associated with the Toltec-Maya High Priest’s Grave, all these dates fall within the Long Count between 2 Imix 4 Mac (A.D. 873, GMT, Yula L.2) and 12 Kan 7 Zac (A.D. 881, GMT, Four Lintels, L.4), a period of some eight years. A prob­able date of 6 Muluc 12 Mac (A. D. 869, GMT) at the Casa Colorada adds four years to the be­ginning of the series. Other Chi­chen dates, less securely placed in the Long Count, may span a period from (A.D. 866, GMT, Watering Trough) to (A.D. 906, GMT, Caracol Stela). Because most of these dates come from lintels, they indicate that many of the major Chichen-Maya style buildings were constructed and dedicated within a period of some eighteen years from A.D. 866 to 884, GMT. The last phase of the Caracol and the High Priest’s Grave seem somewhat later. The High Priest’s Grave date is particu­larly significant because it is asso­ciated with a pure Toltec-Maya structure. Kelley (1982: 3) suggests that it must be approximately con­temporary with the tomb and pyr­amid, which he views as a degener­ative copy of the Castillo, so we may have to reconsider the tradi­tional date of Chichen ltza’s aban­donment (A.D. 1194,

In the first attempt to demon­strate the presence of historical ma­terial in the inscriptions of Chichen Itza, Kelley (1968h) suggested that a certain sequence of glyphs (T669:604:586:25:178) be read pho­netically as Kakupacal (Fig. 9).

Since Kakupacal was the name of a prominent Itza leader mentioned in the Chilam Balam of Chumayel and in the account of Gaspar Antonio Chi, Kelley (1976: 242) reasoned that this must be a historical name, although he pointed out that the dates associated with the Kakupacal of the chronicles appear to be later than those of the personage named at Chichen Itza. The name Kaku­pacal appears in the inscriptions in both phonetic and ideographic fashion, with the phonetic version far more common at Chichen Itza (Kelley 1982: fig. 8). The phonetic version of the name begins with T669, which appears as ka in Landa’s famous “alphabet,” and which has been confirmed in that value by several scholars (Kelley 1976: 177-178). This is followed by T604, Landa’s ku, whose phonetic value is indicated by the redupli­cated appearance of the glyph in the name glyph of the quetzal (Maya, kuk) (Kelley 1976: 178). The subsequent glyphs, T586:25:178, have been read as pa, ca, and la, respectively. Combining these pro­vides the reading paccil. T25 ap­pears in the Landa “alphabet” as Ca, a reading supported by the ap­pearance of T25 in the month glyphs Mae and Tzec/Cazeu (Kelley 1976: 176). T178 appears to have the value In in the direction glyph for east, Lakin (Kelley 1976: 181). The correctness of the reading pace has been confirmed at Pa­lenque, where the sequence T586:25:178 substitutes for a picto­graphic glyph representing a shield, the Maya name for which is pace!. This is now recognized as the name of a prominent Palenque ruler (Mathews and Schele 1974).

The phonetic version of Kaku­pacal’s name is mentioned fourteen times in the texts of Chichen Itza (Kelley 1976: 240-242), appearing on the Halakal lintel, in the Casa Colorada, on Yula Lintel 1, Lintels I and 4 of the Temple of the Four Lintels, the Initial Series Lintel, Lintel 1 of the Temple of the Three Lintels, and on Lintels 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Monjas. His name occurs more often than that of any other historical figure identified at Chi­chen Itza. With one possible ex­ception, the dates associated with Kakupacal fall within a twelve-year period between and (A.D. 869-881, GMT) (Kelley 1976: 242; 1982: 14).

An ideographic version of the name Kakupacal appears at Uxmal on an inscription in the Chan Chimez Group (Fig. 10). Here it consists of the glyph for fire (T122:563a, kak), followed by the first person possessive pronoun (Tl), meaning “his, her, or its,” and then by a pictographic representa­tion of a shield like those that occur in versions of the name of Pacal of Palenque. Kelley (1982: Table 2) is uncertain whether this is a refer­ence to the personage mentioned in the texts at Chichen ltza, but the Chimez is a structure whose ma­sonry indicates a date during the Late Puuc period, ca. A. D. 800-900. It is quite probable that the name at Uxmal refers to the same Kakupacal associated with dates between A.D. 869 and 881 at Chichen Itza.

The name Kakupacal also pos­sibly occurs on the relief column in Structure 6E1 at Chichen Itza (Proskouriakoff 1970: 462-464, fig. 5) (Fig. 11). Kelley (1982: 10) has pointed out that the figure at the left, who wears a large bird head­dress, is accompanied by a name glyph consisting of the fire glyph (T122:563a) followed by a shield glyph. Since this is an undated column, it is uncertain whether this is a reference to the Kakupacal mentioned on the dated Chichen­Maya monuments. It should be pointed out, however, that the column figures have costume fea­tures which tie them closely to Puuc area sculptures in general, and to Stela 14 of Uxmal in partic­ular. It has also been suggested that another figure on the column may be “Lord Chac” of Uxmal (Ko­walski, in press).

Davoust has used structural anal­ysis to identify the names of several new male and female personages, whom he considers to form a series of rulers, and their mothers or wives (Fig. 12). Davoust’s proposed “king list” for Chichen is as follows: (1) “Jawbone-Longbone,” (2) “Yax T’ul,” (3) “Yax Muluc Kuk,” (4) “Muluc Jawbone Variant,” (5) “Bolon Imix,” (6) “Kin Cimi,” (7) “Ac Muluc Tok,” (8) “Bo’xel,” (9) Kakupacal, (10) “Jawbone Fan. ” The women he has designated as “Ix Tanlah,” “Lx Nahel,” “Ix Cai,” and “Ix Imix Allan Kelley (1982: 5-7) accepts all of these as refer­ences to historical figures except one, “Bolon Imix.” He argues that this glyph, which Davoust inter­prets as a day name, is a title asso­ciated with the ruler “Yax T’ul.” In addition, Kelley has proposed dif­ferent readings for several of these names, and has pointed out that another individual, “Double-Jaw­bone,” is named in a text on L.3 of the Temple of the Four Lintels.

The names of eight of these figures can be recognized within the context of a series of fourteen parallel glyphic statements (Kelley 1982: 5, fig. 2) (Fig. 13). These. statements normally start with TI or a comparable prefix coupled with a glyph group incorporating a bat head (read as u sutz lu-n(a) by Kelley, 1982: 5), followed by a glyph with a moon sign (kal?). Sev­eral texts then include a title that has been read as “Ah Pacab” (Ah Pa-ca-b(a)). Four of the Monjas texts then have the cauaclhaablcu glyph with verbal affixes followed by a title Ahpo Ahau. Most of the texts then continue with ti-i? Three texts then follow with. ah ka-?, which is followed in turn by a hand with crossed-bands infix. Three other texts substitute a bird head within another head, followed by ti, for the hand/crossed hands. After this fairly standard clause are the varying passages giving the names of various individuals. These names occur as the grammatical subject at the end of the clause. That these differing sets of glyphs name indi­viduals is confirmed by the fact that one clearly refers to a female.

The meaning of the verb in this clause is still obscure according to Kelley (1982: 5). The object of the verb is, if read phonetically, ah pacab, which in Yucatec means “He of the lintel, sill, or bench.” Kelley speculates that this might identify the protagonist as the person to whom the lintel is dedi­cated, or it might refer to the throne (bench) as a symbol of ruler-ship. Unfortunately, the meaning of the remainder of the clause is even less clear.

Three of these parallel texts, those on L.4 of the Monjas, L.3 of the Temple of the Three Lintels, and the Initial Series Lintel, refer to “Jawbone-Longbone.” Davoust (1980: 26, 28) believes this to be the earliest ruler mentioned in the in­scriptions. Kelley (1982: 6) suggests that “Jawbone-Longbone” was the father of Kakupacal, a relationship specified on L.4 of the Monjas, where Kakupacal’s name follows that of “Jawbone-Longbone” in the central glyphic panel (Fig. 14). “Yax T’ul” (Great Rabbit) is mentioned in four similar passages on L.2 of the Monjas, and L.1 and L.4 of the Temple of the Four Lintels. His name glyph resembles that which forms part of the appellative phrase of “Lady Yax-rabbit from Yaxchilan” on Bonampak Stela 2 (Mathews 1980: 61, fig. 2). Davoust (1980: 26)


Calendar Round—A two-part date indicating a position in a 260-day ritual almanac (tzolkin) and 365-day “vague year” (haab). The almanac pairs thir­teen numbers with twenty day-names. The “vague year” consists of’ 18 twenty-day months” and a five-day un­lucky period. A Calendar Round date, such as 2 Ahau (tzolkin position) 18 Mol (haab position) or 4 Eb 5 Ceh, will recur only after 18,980 days (about 52 years) have elapsed.

Distance Number—A number within a hieroglyphic text that specifies how many kins, tuns, uinals, etc., are to be added to or subtracted from an I.S. to reach a new date.

GMT —The Goodman-Mar­tinez-Thompson correlation of the Maya and Christian cal­endars, placing the Long Count in the year 1539.

Initial Series (I. S.)—A Long Count calendar date at the start of a Maya inscription. It records multiples of 360-day periods and any extra days that have elapsed since the begin­ning of the current Maya era in 3114 B.C. The system uses place-value notation and fea­tures a column of five numerals coupled with time periods known as the baktun (144,000 days), katun (7200 days), tun (360 days), uinal (20 clays), and kin (1 day). Such dates are transcribed into arabic nu­merals as follows:, indicating the completion of 10 baktuns, 8 katuns, 10 tuns, 11 uinals and no kins since the beginning of the time count.

Puuc- A low range of hills in the northwestern Yucatan pen­insula. The name is applied to the dominant architectural style within the region.

Tun-Ahau Statement—An al­ternative dating system used in northern Yucatan, specifying a date by coupling a Calendar Round date with a numbered tun placed within a current katun ending on a numbered day Ahau. Such dates recur only once every 18,980 years.

Transition in the Yucatan

The inscriptions of Uxmal and Chichen Itza are important because they are among the latest known texts from the Maya area. They were produced primarily in the period from (A. D. 869) to (A.D.909) and thus occupy a position during the Terminal Classic which seems to straddle the demise of southern Classic Maya civilization and the introduction of stronger central Mexican influences in the art, architecture, and culture of northern Yucatan. Although not every sec­tion of each text can be deciphered, significant advances have been made in revealing the historical content of these inscriptions. The inscriptions of both Uxmal and Chichen are, despite some localized usages, neither foreign nor un­translatable. Instead, many of the texts refer to specific individuals as­sociated with dates, titles, relation­ship glyphs, and emblem glyphs. The dynastic material in the south is paralleled in the north, although there is less emphasis on the per­sonal biography of rulers and more on ritual commemoration of an­cestors. Beyond the general shared interest in dynastic history, several of the personal names, such as those of Kakupacal, Yax, “Lord Chac,” and others, are closely re­lated to recognizable rulers of southern sites.

These texts cannot solve every problem still remaining in our at­tempts to understand the transition from the Terminal Classic to the Early Post-Classic period in northern Yucatan, but they do af­firm that several major centers in the area were governed by pow­erful Maya dynasties during the pe­riod from A. D. 869 to 909. The so­cial control exerted by these rulers must have been considerable, and they presumably maintained com­mercial and political relations with other areas of Mesoamerica, ties which are reflected in the various foreign and “Non-classic” elements evident in the art of northern Yu­catan at this time. The inscriptions do, however, confirm that during this period these two great cities were basically Maya in social orga­nization and worldview. It was not until the Toltecs of Tula took a more covetous interest in the peninsula that the situation changed, and power was concentrated at Chichen Itza. The political organization of Chichen Itza was greatly altered, as is clearly seen in the dramatic new forms of Toltec-Maya art and architecture, and the near total absence of hieroglyphic inscriptions after (A.D. 909).


Cite This Article

Kowalski, Jeff Karl. "Lords of the Northern Maya." Expedition Magazine 27, no. 3 (November, 1985): -. Accessed February 27, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/lords-of-the-northern-maya/

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