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Classic Maya history is embedded in commoners' homes
Date:4/14/2010

l Maya center called Saturday Creek, in central Belize. These homes were occupied from about A.D. 450 to 1150.

Burial in the home was common among the Maya, but only a few family members were entombed there, Lucero said. No Maya cemeteries or other burial sites have been found to account for the rest of the dead.

There is no evidence that high status individuals were specifically selected for burial in the home. It is more likely that family members who died on or near important dates were placed there during the termination and reanimation rituals, Lucero said.

The team found full or partial skeletons of men, women and children, with artifacts arranged around and even on top of the bodies. Some bodies lay flat. Others were in a sitting position, which may have signified a higher status, Lucero said. Some of the bodies had had bones removed most often the spine and the pelvis. Black is the color of the west, death and the underworld, but Lucero never found black objects in or near a burial.

"The Maya believed in a cyclical way of living," she said. "So to their way of thinking, people don't die as much as become ancestors."

Colors, such as red, which represented the east, life and rebirth, were commonly used in burials. Sometimes an unbroken red vessel was inverted over a skull or kneecap. Red items were generally found on the east side of the body or group of artifacts.

Other artifacts including groups of obsidian or chert rocks represented the Maya belief in the nine levels of the underworld or the 13 levels of heaven.

Vessels were a very significant part of the dedication rites. Lucero found bowls and jars that were in perfect condition when they were buried manufactured specifically for the occasion, she said. For termination rites, archaeologists also found used vessels with their rims broken off, jars lacking bases or necks, and vessels stacked in groups of three. Some bowls were placed lip-to
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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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