A Royal Portrait at Chichen Itza? Central Mexican Emblems of Authority in the Northern Maya Region

Author(s): Annabeth Headrick

Year: 2019


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

The city of Chichen Itza has defied attempts to identify individuals who ruled the city and its basic political organization. Scholars once argued for a shared governance system called multepal, basing this assertion on glyphic references to a series of people who apparently jointly held power. Subsequent scholarship challenged this assertion, as revised hieroglyphic decipherments revealed that many of these "people" were in fact deities; thus, a textual list of royal names was not substantiated. Nevertheless, glyphic evidence still supports the existence of an individual named K’ak’upacal, indicating that at least one historic leader was celebrated. This paper uses the visual record, arguing that a portrait of an ancestral ruler may exist among the Temple of the Chac Mool’s relief columns. The image contains royal elements that are distinctly Maya, but the majority of his emblems of authority participate in a pan-Mesoamerican tradition with roots in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Not only will iconographic analysis reinforce this assertion, but also the Early Postclassic date of the image offers additional support. Furthermore, this identification bolsters arguments for foreign intrusions into Chichen during the Early Postclassic and helps elucidate the nature of political reorganization at the city during this period.

Cite this Record

A Royal Portrait at Chichen Itza? Central Mexican Emblems of Authority in the Northern Maya Region. Annabeth Headrick. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450028)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23065