To Burn like the Sun: Rituals of Fire and Death among the Classic Maya

Author(s): Stephen Houston; Andrew Scherer

Year: 2015


The dichotomies of hot and cold, light and darkness were essential to Classic Maya cosmology. The celestial and underworld journey of solar deities offered a fundamental mythic charter, and fire was the ultimate transformative force, providing a bridge between earthly and otherworldly realms. Such ideology is especially patent in rites of death, sacrifice, and veneration. Monuments from western kingdoms describe censing rituals performed months, years, and even decades after the death of important personages. Work at Piedras Negras demonstrates that even the long cold remains of the kings were activated by exposure to flame. In other kingdoms, fire was used to transform the most precious of mortuary offerings: the corporal remains of mourners and the bodies of sacrificed youths.

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To Burn like the Sun: Rituals of Fire and Death among the Classic Maya. Andrew Scherer, Stephen Houston. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395568)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;