Lead Isotopic Evidence for Foreign-Born Burials in the Classic Maya City of Holmul, Petén, Guatemala


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

La Sufricaya, a Classic Period Maya civic-ceremonial complex in the city of Holmul, Petén, Guatemala, has several epigraphic elements that potentially link it to the Maya city of Tikal and the central Mexican metropolis of Teotihuacan. The La Sufricaya area boasts elaborate elite residential buildings, plazas, a ball court, and carved stelae; rulers from Holmul trace their dynasties back to a Teotihuacan-linked founder. La Sufricaya also shows epigraphic and architectural similarities to Copan, and both sites share a foundation narrative of a ruler embarking on a pilgrimage to a distant place, possibly Teotihuacan. In an effort to test if cultural connections at La Sufricaya included foreign-born individuals, we analyze lead isotopes of dental enamel samples and report new AMS dates of six burials. Framed within established lead isoscapes, five of the six individuals suggest geographic origins in the Northern Highlands, a region that includes Copan. We cannot rule out that the Maya Mountains region, which includes Caracol, was also a possible source. One individual, who died during late infancy, was likely born in the Northern Lowlands. We interpret an interchange of people between the Holmul area and other Maya geopolitical regions within the Yucatan Peninsula and discuss possible political connections.

Cite this Record

Lead Isotopic Evidence for Foreign-Born Burials in the Classic Maya City of Holmul, Petén, Guatemala. Rhonda Quinn, Volney Friedrich, Francisco Estrada-Belli, Alexandre Tokovinine, Linda Godfrey. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449279)

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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): 23084