Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Figura del Quijote con Sancho Pansa

A Dynastic Heirloom from Piedras Negras, Guatemala. Material Circulation and Ancestral Memory in a Classic Maya Kingdom

Mallory Matsumoto


In the early twentieth century, archaeologists working in the famous Maya center of Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico, uncovered a small jade pendant carved in the shape of a human head. Although the object’s form was not unusual—jade was a prized material for ornaments, many of which were anthropomorphic in shape—the hieroglyphic inscription on its reverse indicated that its history was anything but ordinary. Originally carved in Piedras Negras, Peten, Guatemala, in the late seventh century, the heirloom was worn by local kings before it was eventually sacrificed into the waters of the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza, almost 500 km northeast of Piedras Negras. In her talk, Mallory Matsumoto (The University of Texas at Austin) presents a more complete history of the jade pendant, building on prior research to identify at least three kings associated with the piece and reconstructing the context in which the ornament remained present at Piedras Negras even after the last known king was no longer wearing it.

Mallory Matsumoto is an archaeological and historical anthropologist whose research addresses the interface between language, material culture, and religion in the Maya region of Mesoamerica during the Classic and early colonial periods. She earned her PhD in anthropology from Brown University in 2021 and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2023-2024, she is a Humboldt Research Fellow with the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Ancient Head
Gift of C. P. Bowditch, 1910. Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 10-70-20C610

Termin und Ort

Montag, 24.6.2024
18.00 h
Konferenzraum und online via Webex


Englisch / English


Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

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2021 || Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Preussischer Kulturbesitz