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Odontometric Investigation of the Origin of Freestanding Shrine Ossuaries at Mayapan

  • Stanley Serafin
  • Carlos Peraza Lope
  • Eunice Uc González
  • Pedro Delgado Kú
Chapter

Abstract

Mayapan was the largest and most densely populated city in the Maya area during the Late Postclassic period (ca. AD 1200–1450), but was it truly cosmopolitan? This question was investigated through biodistance and population genetic analyses of heritable dental metric traits, the first such study conducted at this site. The analyses concentrated on burials excavated from a diverse array of contexts, such as mass graves, residences, and plaza floors, with a particular focus on freestanding shrine ossuaries. The results of both univariate and multivariate analyses suggest individuals interred in freestanding shrine ossuaries are genetically distinct from contemporary and earlier populations from northwestern Yucatan, suggesting this new burial practice was introduced by foreigners. These findings also have implications for the larger question of whether pan-Mesoamerican elite identity formation in the Postclassic period (AD 900–1543) was accompanied by more intense long-distance mixing of populations, rather than just the exchange of goods and ideas. Given the important role played by exchange in the regeneration of sociopolitical complexity in ancient societies from different parts of the world (Schwartz, 2006), this study also contributes to the broader discussion of how cultures survive and respond to upheaval, as well as to a more nuanced consideration of the role of migration in culture change.

Keywords

Yucatan Peninsula Mortuary Practice Maya Area Intraobserver Error Postclassic Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was made possible by funding from the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. grant #05033 and the Middle American Research Institute of Tulane University. Generous permission to study these collections was provided by Marilyn Masson, Clifford Brown, and José Manuel Arias. The RMET 5.0 computer program was kindly made available by John Relethford. Helpful comments on various aspects of this research were provided by Bárbara Escamilla Ojeda, Wilbert Cruz Alvarado, John Verano, E. Wyllys Andrews V, Trenton Holliday, and Clifford Brown.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley Serafin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Carlos Peraza Lope
    • 4
  • Eunice Uc González
    • 4
  • Pedro Delgado Kú
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Human, Health & Social SciencesCentral Queensland UniversityRockhamptonAustralia
  2. 2.Department of ChiropracticMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Humanities & LanguagesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Instituto Nacional de Antropología e HistoriaCentro INAH YucatanMeridaMexico

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