Mayan altars, sculpture discovered in Guatemala
A Mayan group called the Chakan Itza would have used this council house as aplace to hold meetings, worship gods, make alliances and officiate marriage ceremonies.
"Basically almost every political and religious ritual would have been held there," Pugh told Live Science in an interview. The leaders who gathered there would have held power in the community and perhaps the broader region. Among the artifacts is an incense burner showing the head of Itzamna, who was the "shaman of the gods," Pugh said.
Center of a community
The council house at Nixtun-Ch'ich', about 50 by 50 meters (164 by 164 feet), would have been part of a flourishing settlement. Archaeologists in previous expeditions found a giant ball court at the site, the second largest from the Mayan world, Pugh said. The largest Mayan ball court is at Chichen Itza, a city the Chaken Itza believed their ancestors had migrated from, Pugh said.
The council house appears to have been in use between about A.D. 1300 and 1500, Pugh said, adding that it could have been in use for some time after 1500. Around that time, Pugh believes, the Chakan Itza decided to destroy the council house and move the seat of power — something they would likely do on a regular basis.
"The Maya paid close attention to time and calendars," Pugh said. "After a certain cycle of time they would move the ruling seat to a new location."
|This sculpted images of a reptile (either a snake or crocodile) and a parrot would |
have adorned the hallways of the 700-year-old Mayan council house. It would
have been attached to the walls [Credit: Don Rice]
A living legacy
The Spanish would conquer the Peténregion of Guatemala by the end of the 17th century. The Itza people suffered many casualties from the conquest and European diseases to which they lacked immunity.
However the Itza, along with other Mayan people, persevered and continue to live on today. Many of the Itza now speak Spanish, although the Itza language is still spoken by a small number of individuals.
Author: Owen Jarus | Source: LiveScience [June 10, 2014]