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Human/animal interactions in the Copan Valley from the beginning to the end of the Copan dynasty: Stable Isotope Analysis of the Felids from Altar Q and the Motmot dedicatory offerings

Author(s): Nawa Sugiyama ; William L. Fash

Year: 2015

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Summary

In fifth century Copan, Honduras, beneath the city’s first dynastic monument a complete puma was offered beside a female human burial. Over three centuries later, under the watchful eye of sixteenth and final ruler of the dynasty Yax Pasaj, a series of sixteen felids (many of them jaguars) were placed in the dedicatory cache of Altar Q, the "stone of the founder." Here we investigate the remains of some of the largest carnivores on the landscape, the jaguar and puma, to analyze human-felid encounters. These large predators were instrumental icons of power and rulership, but as two of the endangered species that are no longer found in the Copan Valley we must question how humans interacted with these animals, and what they symbolized. Zooarchaeological and isotopic data from these two momentous dedicatory offerings are utilized to reconstruct the entire ritualization process: where and when were these animals acquired, and is there evidence that they were kept in captivity? Why did the ancient Copanecos conduct this sacrifice, and what was the underlying cosmology behind these violent acts? From the beginning of the ceremonial precinct to the demise of the Copan dynasty, human-animal encounters helped re-order and reify the sociopolitical landscape.

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Human/animal interactions in the Copan Valley from the beginning to the end of the Copan dynasty: Stable Isotope Analysis of the Felids from Altar Q and the Motmot dedicatory offerings. Nawa Sugiyama, William L. Fash. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396916)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Central America


Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America