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
Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction
A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.
Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.
Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.
The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.
Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.
The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.
“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.
The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.
Header Image Credit : INAH
Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle
Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.
In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.
Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.
Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.
The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”
Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”
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