Cross Markers and Commemorating Place in the Titles of Ebtún, Yucatán

Author(s): Rani Alexander

Year: 2018


Cross markers that consist of a wooden cross supported by a stone cairn (multun) are among the most pervasive landscape features encountered in rural Yucatán. They delimit water sources, features along roadways and paths, agricultural parcels, and the entrances of rural towns. The cross markers show substantial formal variation and are associated with material evidence indicating diverse practices of veneration. Cross markers were first established in the sixteenth century after the Spanish invasion, and they are documented in both Maya- and Spanish-language land surveys that run from the 1550s to the present day. These boundary markers, however, commemorate places long abandoned by inhabitants. They convey multitemporal notions of history and social memory, as well as spatial movement and circulation. In this paper, I examine how present-day cross markers in the areas surrounding the towns of Ebtún, Cuncunul, Kaua, Tekom, and Tixcacalcupul relate to the historical contingencies of movement documented in the Titles of Ebtún, a corpus of Maya-language land survey documents. Activities known as tzol pictun, taking a tour of the boundary markers, is a contemporary place-making practice that has continually reproduced local authority and renewed social memory from the sixteenth century to the present.

Cite this Record

Cross Markers and Commemorating Place in the Titles of Ebtún, Yucatán. Rani Alexander. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444295)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 18759