Discoveries peg ritual specialists as central to bark-paper tomes and wall murals
Illustration by Heather Hurst (© 2014), courtesy of San Bartolo-Xultun Archaeological Project
Excavations at a more than 1,200-year-old Maya settlement in Guatemala suggest that ritual specialists made sacred books in a room where they also painted murals and astronomical tables on the walls. The new findings offer a rare glimpse of the people who created and wrote Maya books.
At least two men buried near the mural room, located in a residential sector of an ancient Maya city called Xultun, took part in making bark-paper, stucco-coated codex books, say Boston University archaeology doctoral candidate Franco Rossi and his colleagues. One man was interred in an addition to the mural room constructed when the original chamber was filled in with limestone and mud, closing it down, Rossi’s group reports January 5 in American Anthropologist.
“The mural room was sealed off and turned into this individual’s mausoleum,” Rossi says.
Two pendants found with