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Maya Goods in Teotihuacan Tomb Volume 56 Number 1, January/February 2003
by Colleen P. Popson


The remains of three elite individuals were found in the Pyramid of the Moon. (Courtesy Arizona State University)

The recent discovery of Maya artifacts in a fourth-century A.D. tomb in the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan is adding to the growing body of evidence linking the central Mexican capital with the Maya region to the southeast.

The tomb held the remains of three individuals seated in cross-legged positions and accompanied by shell, obsidian, and jade ceremonial items, including some Maya-style artifacts.

Evidence for interaction between the Maya and Teotihuacanos has been found at Maya sites, where Teotihuacan imagery and ceramic and architectural styles were used by the elite during the Early Classic period (A.D. 250-500). Whether this influence reflects the movement of royalty between the two areas or simply Maya emulation of the powerful city is still being debated.

Grave goods included an obsidian figurine (left), and a jade figurine possibly of Maya origin (right). (Saburo Sugiyama, courtesy Arizona State University)

"It is true that these three individuals have large jade pectorals and earspools that may have come from the Maya area," says Linda Manzanilla of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. "The position of the bodies has something to do with Maya practices, but we cannot say these individuals are Maya. The presence of jade does not tell us somebody came from the Maya region; only that this material was appreciated by Teotihuacan society."

Still, Maya artifacts in such a royal context at Teotihuacan suggests influence at the elite level went in both directions, information that will certainly help researchers in their effort to understand how the great city was ruled. These burials are the first remains of probable royalty found in the Pyramid of the Moon; all others have been sacrifice victims.

© 2003 by the Archaeological Institute of America