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Evidence of twin-children sacrificial practices at Chichén Itzá

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A genome study has uncovered evidence of male-twin-sacrifices at the Maya city of Chichén Itzá.

Chichén Itzá was a Maya city and polity that gained regional prominence in Mexico’s Yucatan during the Late Classic and early Terminal Classic periods. At its peak, the city covered around 4 square miles and was home to as many as 35,000 people.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), working in collaboration with several international institutions, have conducted a genetic investigation of the remains of 65 children who were buried in the chultún mortuary complex.

Human sacrifice was part of the ritual life at Chichén Itzá, with a large proportionate being children and adolescents.

The analysis revealed that 64 of the 65 children were actually male, with around ¼ being directly related to each other either through a first- or second-degree familial connection. This is further evidenced by the similarity in their diets, suggesting that many of the children were raised in the same household.

“Most surprisingly, we identified two pairs of identical twins,” says Kathrin Nägele, co-author and group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “We can say this with certainty because our sampling strategy ensured we would not duplicate individuals.”

Twin sacrifice is a central theme in Maya text and myth, such as in the sacred K’iche’ Mayan Book of Council (known as the Popol Vuh), or the Pop Vul which recounts the sacrifice of Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu following their defeat in a ballgame.

“The similar ages and diets of the male children, their close genetic relatedness, and the fact that they were interred in the same place for more than 200 years point to the chultún as a post-sacrificial burial site, with the sacrificed individuals having been selected for a specific reason,” says Oana Del Castillo-Chávez, co-author and researcher in the Physical Anthropology Section at the Centro INAH Yucatán.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : INAH

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Elite Petén style structures found near Kohunlich

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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 www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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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 www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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