The Center as Cosmos in Early Colonial period Campeche

Author(s): Lorraine Williams-Beck

Year: 2015


The center, as the Maya universe’s fifth direction, is a little understood component of Colonial period Maya cosmos. This paper will explore a diachronic notion of function and form for center as umbilicus, placing particular emphasis on pre-Hispanic Canpech and Chakanputun provinces, and Early Colonial contexts at Dzaptun/Ceiba Cabecera, Campeche. Pre-Hispanic Dzaptun, renamed "la Zeiba" and Ceiba Cabecera in later Colonial sources, had served as central cog in a hypothesized regional ritual religious pilgrimage circuit prior to European contact. As one of the earliest "pueblos de indios" in the Champoton and Campeche Missions region, Ceiba Cabecera’s congregational town layout and it’s more prominent architectural features follow pre-Hispanic directional primacy. Two churches, a diminutive sixteenth-century open "visita" chapel and later eighteenth-century massive "iglesia mayor", and unknown period water well, are central points of orientation placed strategically adjacent to "Main Street", whose westerly limit ends in the town’s cemetery. Iglesia Mayor’s architectural components and secular iconographic contents reiterate its place as umbilicus for Campeche’s Early Colonial Mayas’ ritual religious universe. Ceiba Cabecera’s reign as a Colonial religious center ceased around 1795 and the town was later abandoned by 1860.

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The Center as Cosmos in Early Colonial period Campeche. Lorraine Williams-Beck. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398346)

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Spatial Coverage

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