Classic Maya History Is Embedded in Commoners' Homes





They were illiterate farmers, builders and servants, but Maya commoners found a way to record their own history -- by burying it within their homes. A new study of the objects embedded in the floors of homes occupied more than 1,000 years ago in central Belize begins to decode their story.

The study, from University of Illinois anthropology professor Lisa J. Lucero, appears in the Journal of Social Archaeology.

Maya in the Classic period (A.D. 250-900) regularly "terminated" their homes, razing the walls, burning the floors and placing artifacts and (sometimes) human remains on top before burning them again.

Evidence suggests these rituals occurred every 40 or 50 years and likely marked important dates in the Maya calendar. After termination, the family built a new home on the old foundation, using broken and whole vessels, colorful fragments, animal bones and rocks to mark important areas and to provide ballast for a new plaster floor.



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