Night and the Underworld in the Classic Period Ulúa Valley, Honduras

Author(s): Jeanne Lopiparo

Year: 2017


As the sun set and the light dimmed in the Classic Period Ulúa Valley, Honduras, the nighttime sky and a soundscape of nocturnal animals emerged. The transition between day and night was marked not only by the shifting sensory experience of the nightscape but also by the passage of the sun through the underworld, as the realm of death and the ancestors came alive. The night was inhabited and animated by liminal animals and ancestors that moved between the world of the living and the dead. The prevalence of representations of animals that are nocturnal, crepuscular, and/or associated with the underworld in the corpus of figural artifacts, and especially those associated with life-cycle rituals, suggests that the nighttime was crucial to everyday life, death, and renewal. Their animal (and sometimes zoo-anthropomorphic hybrid) bodies were frequently whistles, which would have animated a soundscape that accompanied transition-marking events. Solar and life-cycle rituals on the monumental scale featured large figural censers that heralded the passage between life and death, which—at night—became a two-way journey between the earthly world and the underworld.

Cite this Record

Night and the Underworld in the Classic Period Ulúa Valley, Honduras. Jeanne Lopiparo. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431054)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15717