Child Burials and Figurines at a Terminal Classic Maya Household, Ceibal, Guatemala

Author(s): Jessica MacLellan; Daniela Triadan

Year: 2017


The ancient Maya center of Ceibal is known for a florescence during the Terminal Classic period (c. AD 800-900), a time when most cities in the region were in decline. Excavations at the Karinel Group, a residential complex, have focused on the site’s Preclassic origins. However, an elite household also occupied the area during the Terminal Classic period. The residents built four house platforms around a patio, had access to high-status goods, and took part in crafting activities. Along the centerline of the patio, they deposited a series of burials, mainly of children. These burials contained many grave goods, including ceramic figurines that functioned as ocarinas. Figurines have been found in two other child burials, and no adult burials, at the site. It has been observed elsewhere that Classic Maya figurines are frequently associated with women and children. These musical instruments shaped like human, animal, and supernatural characters may represent toys and educational tools, used for enacting intimate performances within the household. When compared to previously excavated burials at Ceibal, the Karinel Group burials demonstrate a flexible set of mortuary practices shared by elites during the Terminal Classic.

Cite this Record

Child Burials and Figurines at a Terminal Classic Maya Household, Ceibal, Guatemala. Jessica MacLellan, Daniela Triadan. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429055)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15021