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Archaeologists uncover Maya dish depicting wahyis spirit



Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have uncovered a Maya dish depicting a wahyis protective spirit during excavations at Cansacbé in the Mexican state of Campeche.

The dish was deposited in a burial as a funerary offering and depicts a wahyis protective spirit that were auxiliary supernatural entities of Maya elite.

Those who possess a wahyis are named in Classic Maya inscriptions as a wahyaw, meaning “shaman, enchanter, or nagual”. The wahyis rested in the heart during the day, but at night while its owner slept, the wahyis soul could be projected at will into animals, comets, wind, lightning, and other supernatural phenomena.

The word “way” is the root of “dream” in the Mayan languages and derived from it are also various meanings associated to dreams, witchcraft, transformation and companion spirits. In a recent study by scholars Christophe Helmke and Jesper Nielsen, it is posited that these wahyi entities embody or symbolise afflictions from the netherworld, which can be manipulated and transferred onto others.

The most compelling proof linking the wahyis to personified illnesses can be found in the “El Ritual de los Bacabes,” a Yukatek colonial manuscript originating from the late 18th century, potentially a reproduction of an earlier codex.

This work contains 68 passages encompassing incantations, supplications, and medical formulas for remedying ailments. The maladies described within these texts adopt the likenesses of creatures or humans possessing their own consciousness, rendering them susceptible to the directives of the healer. The healer endeavors to expel these ailments from the afflicted individual’s body. The names assigned to these illnesses provide insight into the forms they are believed to assume, whether those of monkeys, deer, jaguars, birds, insects, or snakes.

The Cansacbé dish depicts a sitting representation of a jaguar, or a man dressed in the skin of a jaguar, surrounded by boxes that represent turtle shells. These types of imagery are common in ceramics that date from the Late Classic period (AD 600 to 900).

It was found during construction of  Section 2 of the Mayan Train, where previous excavations during the 1990’s uncovered the remains of  two palace-type buildings within the archaeological zone of Cansacbé.


Header Image Credit : INAH

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Elite Petén style structures found near Kohunlich




Construction works for a road in Section 7 of the Mayan Train have uncovered elite Petén style structures near Kohunlich in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Kohunlich is a large Maya polity that served as a regional centre along the trade routes through the southern Yucatán.

The site was first settled around 200 BC, with the majority of its monuments being built between AD 250 to AD 600 during the Early Classic Period.

The city features elevated platforms, plazas, pyramids, and citadels, all enclosed by palace platforms. The layout of Kohunlich was carefully arranged to direct drainage into a network of cisterns and a massive reservoir for rainwater collection.

Construction works for a road on the periphery of Kohunlich have resulted in the discovery of elite structures in the Petén style, a distinct type of Maya architecture and inscription style.

Archaeologists have identified seven structures in total, interpreted to be elite homesteads of a domestic nature that were used for agricultural activities.

Most of the structures have a rectangular plan and vaulted rooms adorned with decorative Petén style elements.

Given their archaeological importance, experts from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have registered the monuments for protection.

Consequently, the planned route of the road has been redirected to preserve the structures in situ, where they will be preserved and open to the public in the near future.

Excavations also unearthed various archaeological materials, including ceramics, shells, fragments of human bone, and objects intentionally buried as offerings likely during the construction of the homesteads for protection.

Header Image Credit : Maya Train

Sources : National Institute of Anthropology and History

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs




Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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