Ritual Fires and Ancient Maya Termination Deposits at Naachtun (Guatemala): An Archaeobotanical Perspective

Author(s): Lydie Dussol

Year: 2017


Termination rituals have been a well-documented practice among ancient Maya societies. Generally including the spread of broken artifacts on floors, the manipulation of ancestor bones, and the intentional destruction of architectural structures, termination deposits are believed to have served to symbolically "kill" a building at the time of its abandonment. Regardless of the nature or function of these different deposits, their frequent association with ashes, charcoal and burn marks clearly attests that fire was a central element in the ritual practices they originate from. Fire must have been necessary to burn incense, as it is the case in modern societies. But the complexity and the variability observed in the composition termination deposits encourage to consider that fires associated with them were also intentionally composed, implying a more complex relation to the vegetal world as materialized by wood and plants. This paper presents an archaeobotanical study of termination deposits dated from the Terminal Classic period (AD 830-1000) at Naachtun (Northern Petén, Guatemala), which aimed to better characterize their formation process and socio-cultural significance.

Cite this Record

Ritual Fires and Ancient Maya Termination Deposits at Naachtun (Guatemala): An Archaeobotanical Perspective. Lydie Dussol. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430033)


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): 15108