All the Underworld’s a Stage: Ancient Maya Ritual Stages of Xibalba

Author(s): Cameron Griffith; Brent Woodfill

Year: 2015


Ancient Maya rulers dramatically gave offerings to the gods and ancestors on behalf of the local population, and the spectacle was central to the maintenance of the social hierarchy. Some of these public ceremonies took place in in the subterranean realm of Xibalba, from the vantage point of visible, elevated areas within cave sites. The actors using the ritual stages described in this paper, whether from large urban centers or smaller villages in the countryside, would have used the ceremonies and setting to bolster their social standing with the people under their charge. However, the people were not the only perceived audience--the supernaturals upon whom the populace depended also had to be present and impressed both with the offerings provided and a successful spectacle.

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Cite this Record

All the Underworld’s a Stage: Ancient Maya Ritual Stages of Xibalba. Cameron Griffith, Brent Woodfill. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398356)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Caves Maya Ritual

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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