Art and the Ancestors: Sculpture from the Cave Complex at Quen Santo, Guatemala

Author(s): Caitlin Earley

Year: 2015


At the site of Quen Santo, Guatemala, a hilltop center overlies an elaborate cave complex. First documented by Eduard Seler, the caves at Quen Santo have also been explored by modern-day archaeologists. Missing from modern analyses of Quen Santo, however, is a consideration of sculpture from the site: Seler recovered almost thirty stone monuments, most related to themes of death, ritual, and the ancestors. In this paper I explore the sculptural corpus of Quen Santo for the first time, arguing that Quen Santo was a center for mortuary ritual. Using a combination of art historical and archaeological information, I explore how the sculpture, ceramics, and architecture of Quen Santo point to its unique regional role, and what the site can tell us about ancestor veneration and ritual cave use on the Western Maya frontier.

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Cite this Record

Art and the Ancestors: Sculpture from the Cave Complex at Quen Santo, Guatemala. Caitlin Earley. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398138)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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