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Acta MesoAmericana

Acta MesoAmericana
Volume 23

Christian Isendahl and Bodil Liljefors Persson (editors)

Ecology, Power, and Religion


in Maya Landscapes
11th European Maya Conference
Malm University
December 2006

VERLAG
ANTON SAURWEIN
2011

Wayeb Advisory Editorial Board


Alain Breton
Andrs Ciudad Ruiz
Elizabeth Graham
Nikolai Grube
Norman Hammond

Die Deutsche Bibliothek CIP Einheitsaufnahme


Ein Titelsatz dieser Publikation ist bei
Der Deutschen Bibliothek erhltlich

ISBN: 3-931419-19-X
Copyright Verlag Anton Saurwein, Markt Schwaben, Germany, 2011
All rights reserved
Layout: Daniel Karlsson, Prinfo Grafiskt Center, Malm, Sweden
Printed in Germany

Contents
Introduction

Ritual and Boundaries

Christian Isendahl and Bodil Liljefors Persson

Christopher T. Morehart

Introducing Ecology, Power, and Religion in


Maya Landscapes

The Fourth Obligation: Food Offerings in Caves


and the Materiality of Sacred Relationships
135

Bodil Liljefors Persson

Water and Climatic Phenomena

Ualhi Yax Imix Che tu Chumuk:


Cosmology, Ritual and the Power of Place in
Yucatec Maya (Con-)Texts

Stephen Houston and Karl Taube


The Fiery Pool: Water and Sea among the
Classic Maya

17

Waters, Droughts, and Early Classic Maya


Worldviews

39

57

Lorraine A. Williams-Beck
Rivers of Ritual and Power in the Northwestern
Maya Lowlands
69

Alexandre Tokovinine
People from a Place: Re-Interpreting Classic
Maya Emblem Glyphs

91

Estella Weiss-Krejci
Reordering the Universe during Tikals
Dark Age

Memory, Nature, and Religion:


The Perception of Pre-Hispanic Ruins in a
Highland Maya Community

177

Valentina Vapnarsky and Olivier Le Guen

191

Integrated Landscapes
Christian Isendahl

107

Laura M. Amrhein
Xkeptunich: Terminal Classic Maya
Cosmology, Rulership, and the World Tree

167

Lars Frhsorge

The Guardians of Space and History:


Understanding Ecological and Historical
Relationships of the Contemporary Yucatec
Maya to their Landscape

Exploring Power in the Landscape

159

Andrs Dapuez
Untimely Dispositions

Nicholas P. Dunning and Stephen Houston


Chan Ik: Hurricanes as a Destabilizing
Force in the Pre-Hispanic Maya Lowlands

Kerry Hull
Ritual and Cosmological Landscapes of the
Chorti Maya

Patrice Bonnafoux

145

Thinking about Landscape and Religion in the


Pre-Hispanic Maya Lowlands
209
Elizabeth Graham

121

Darwin at Copan

221

Exploring Power in the Landscape

People from a Place: Re-Interpreting


Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs
Alexandre Tokovinine
Harvard University

Abstract
This paper addresses the problem of the so-called emblem glyphs or royal titles that incorporate certain place
names. The common trend in scholarship is to view these place names as corresponding to a distinct kind of
spatial entities, even as polity names. I argue that there is no evidence to sustain the polity name hypothesis.
Instead, place names incorporated into the royal title should rather be interpreted as the most salient, highlighted
features in the representations of the political landscape created by each Classic Maya regime. Such features do not
necessarily correspond to the largest spatial entities within the political landscape. There may be little or no correspondence to the immediate physical landscape of Classic Maya sites as some of the place names in the emblem
glyphs are locations in deep time. The article begins with a brief overview of the research on the subject and then
proceeds with a specific case study exploring the relations between the ideational landscape in the inscriptions of
the site of Naranjo and the identities of its rulers according to the same corpus of texts. It considers other cases of
place names in emblem glyphs supporting the observations made in the case study.

Resumen
Este artculo examina el problema de los ttulos reales conocidos como los glifos emblema en las inscripciones
jeroglficas de los mayas. La opinin ms popular en las publicaciones sobre este tema es que los topnimos incorporados en los glifos emblema corresponden a un cierto tipo de las unidades polticas y territoriales hasta ser los
nombres de los reinos. Sin embargo, unos datos nuevos no permiten sostener la interpretacin comn de los glifos
emblema. Los ltimos corresponden a los rasgos ms marcados en las representaciones del paisaje geopoltico del
cada reino maya. La relacin entre el paisaje fsico, los topnimos, y los ttulos reales que incorporan estos topnimos parece mucho mas complicada. Los rasgos marcados no constituyen necesariamente las unidades espaciales
ms grandes. Adems, algunos topnimos en los glifos emblema corresponden a unos lugares mitolgicos y no al
paisaje actual.

Emblem Glyphs: Introducing the Problem

his paper addresses some challenges in understanding the significance of place names in
a particular type of royal titles known as emblem
glyphs. An emblem glyph consists of a word ajawa
Classic Maya term for lord well-attested in Colonial sources (Lacadena Garca-Gallo and Ciudad Ruiz
1998)and a place name that precedes the word
ajaw and functions as an adjective. An expression
Boston lord would be a suitable English analogy.

Sometimes, the title is introduced by the adjective


kuhul, holy or sacred. The emblem glyph is not
a glyph at all. It can be spelled with any number
of syllabic or logographic signs. In fact, several alternative spellings are attested for the words kuhul and
ajaw, which form the core of the title. The term emblem glyph dates back to the days of purely structural approach to Classic Maya inscriptions. It was
Berlin (1958) who noticed that certain combinations
of signs that he termed emblem glyphs were associated with particular sites or dynasties. Subsequently,

Alexandre Tokovinine
Marcus (1976) argued that the emblem glyphs referred to archaeological sites, whereas Mathews and
Justeson, as well as Houston (Houston 1986; Mathews and Justeson 1984; Mathews 1991) argued once
again that the emblem glyphs were the titles of Maya
rulers with some geographical association.
The discussion about the nature of emblem glyphs
received a new spin with the monograph by Stuart
and Houston (1994). The authors demonstrated that
there were many place namessome historic, some
mythicalmentioned in hieroglyphic inscriptions
after phrases like it happened at Some of these
place names also appeared in the emblem glyphs,
some were attested in the titles of origin (various expressions like a person from such-and-such place),
but some were not incorporated into the personal titles at all. Moreover, Stuart and Houston highlighted
several cases when the titles of origin and the emblem glyphs associated with the same historical individuals did not overlap. This important observation
was based in part on the earlier research by Houston
(1993) who noticed that the establishment and the
spread of the Tikal-originated dynasty in the Petexbatun region was accompanied by the proliferation
of rulers using the Tikal emblem glyph. It seemed
as if Petexbatun rulers placed political and dynastic
ascendancy above the current seats of rulership.
The discrepancies between the emblem glyphs
and the place names associated with the actual cen
ters of Classic Maya kingdoms were also discovered
and discussed in the case of the Kanul kings at the
site of Calakmul, Campeche. Martin (2005b) suggested that the Kanul dynasty was likely not autochthonous to the site of Calakmul known as Chik
Nahb in Classic inscriptions. Some time in the reign
of Yuknoom Chen II (AD 636686) the seat of Kanul
kings moved from the site of Dzibanche in Quintana Roo to Calakmul in Campeche (Grube 2004a;
Martin and Grube 2000a: 103; Martin 2005b). The
new beginning was reflected in zeroing down the
dynastic count with Yuknoom Chen II becoming a
new founder, the first Kanul lord. The arrival of
the Kanul kings to Calakmul eclipsed a local dynasty
with its own Bat emblem glyph. The Bat kings
disappeared from public monuments for a while.
Nevertheless, after Calakmul rulers suffered a series
of military defeats in the eighth century AD, it was
the turn of the Kanul kings to nearly disappear from
epigraphic records, while the Bat lords re-emerged as
the sole rulers of Calakmul and the nearby site of
Oxpemul (Martin 2005b). Both local and Kanul dynasts shared the same emblem glyph of Calakmul
kings (chik nahb ajaw) and the title of origin of
92

those of Calakmul (aj chik nahb), although Kanul


kings had other titles like [chi-[T314]] yajawte.
Many scholars continued to explain the differences between several kinds of place namesthose
in direct references to locations, in emblem glyphs,
and in other titlesmore-or-less in line with an
older idea that emblem glyphs indicated ones political control of a place in question. For instance, Palka
(1996) argued that place names in emblem glyphs reflected current location(s) of ones political authority
whereas titles of origin referred to ones place of birth.
In the case of the eighth century rulers of Bonampak
and Lacanha, Palka suggested that Lacanha was overtaken by a foreign lord from the so-called Knot site.
An extension of this conservative understanding of
emblem glyphs is an increasingly popular trend to
interpret place names in these titles as polity names.
One version of this hypothesis can be found in an article by Grube (2000a: 553) who argues for conceptual identity between the capital city and the state
except the cases of specific historical reasons. Another variety of the same interpretation suggests that
place names in emblem glyphs denote larger spatial
entities (Martin and Grube 2000a: 1721; Martin
2005b: 11).
The main problem with the interpretation of emblem glyphs as city or polity place names is that it
largely fails to account for the co-existence of independent dynasts carrying identical emblem glyphs.
It also implies that Classic Maya inscriptions refer
to places in the emblem glyphs as if they were distinct kinds of spatial entities: territorial domains
under ones political control. There is no evidence
in support of this implication. One would expect,
for example, an event happening at Calakmul to be
referred to as something happening at Kanul or an
event at the Knot site as something happening at
Lacanha. However, it is never the case.
Finally, there is always a way to avoid the problem
altogether by asserting that emblem glyphs are names
of royal dynasties or households (Martin 2005b:
12). This hypothesis clearly works better than the
other theory in explaining why emblem glyphs can
be passed simply through descent. It also accounts
for the cases like multiple dynastic counts for Kanul
lords. However, it neither explains why these place
names are chosen for such purpose, nor clarifies the
function of these place names in a broader political
landscape.
The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that the
polity name interpretation of emblem glyphs is
wrong. It cannot be supported by available epigraphic data and it leads to a host of incorrect assumptions

People from a Place: Re-Interpreting Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs

Contexts
CI*

Site name**

274

YAX

167

158

146
131

NAR

PAL

EG toponym

direct***

ix/aj[x]

[x]

[x]ajaw

[x]winik

[x]other

Pa chan

113

Kaaj

66

Saaal

60

Wak kab nal

11

Matwiil

12

23

Baakal

45

Tok tahn

TIK

Mutal

18

88

PNG

Yokib

52

Wayal

131

CPN

[T756] (variants)

62

109

DPL

Mutal

78

97

QRG

Uun

20

69

61

TNA

BPK

Ik [T756d]

Ik way nal

Po

29

[pu-[T609]]

[T533.122]

Kaaj

Ake

23

Xukal naah

24

Usiij witsiil

[T609]

49

CRC

Hux witsa

15

40

CNC

[ya-[T544.501]] ahk

14

35

SBL

[T176]

15

29

MQL

27

CLK

25

PRU

[[T174]-su]

22

Kanul

54

Chik nahb

[T756]

Waka

11

24

TRT

Baakal

15

22

TAM&ARP

[[T856]-la]

13

21

PUS

Uun

12

20

ITN

T556.686

19

ALS

[[T239]-si]

18

NMP

Wakaam

16

PMT

Pakbuul

11

Pipa

10

YXH

Yaxa

14

IXK

Julip

MTL

Ika

11

44

Table 1. Contexts of Classic Maya emblem glyph toponyms associated with sites with large corpora of inscriptions. * CI: The corpus size index
is the number of mentions of place names at a site. ** Site name acronyms: ALS (Altar de Sacrificios), ARP (Arroyo de Piedra), BPK (Bonampak),
CLK (Calakmul), CNC (Cancuen), CPN (Copan), CRC (Caracol), DPL (Dos Pilas), ITN (Itzan), IXK (Ixkun), MQL (Machaquila), MTL (Motul de San
Jose), NAR (Naranjo), NMP (Nim Li Punit), PAL (Palenque), PMT (Pomona), PNG (Piedras Negras), PRU (El Peru), PUS (Pusilha), QRG (Quirigua),
TAM (Tamarindito), TIK (Tikal), TNA (Tonina), TRT (Tortuguero), YAX (Yaxchilan), and YXH (Yaxha). *** Direct context: when a place name is mentioned as an agent, an object of ones action, or a location of the narrative.

93

Alexandre Tokovinine

Figure 1. Map of Southern Maya Lowlands.

about the nature of the Classic Maya political landscape as represented in Classic Maya inscriptions. It
became common, in academic and popular discourses alike, to mechanically associate a Classic Maya
archaeological site as defined by contemporary researchers with one of local Classic Maya place names
and to assume that the place name in the emblem
glyphs of its rulers corresponds to the territory under
their political control. These operations introduce a
set of categories which are not to be found in the
Classic Maya written record and which reify modern
conceptions of statehood.
There are at least three ways to investigate the
significance of emblem glyphs. We can explore Classic Maya spatial categories and the notions of place
based on the available written narratives and imagery. Another venue is to see how place names in
emblem glyphs correspond to locations in the physical landscape. Finally, it is worth considering how
and in which contexts (historical circumstances and
narratives) Classic Maya lords associated themselves
94

with places in emblem glyphs. This paper leaves the


first set of issues to another publication and centers
on the last two venues of investigation. Rather than
considering all potentially significant examples in the
Classic Maya corpus, it will examine a subset of texts
from the site of Naranjo. We shall then see how the
observations made in the course of this case study are
relevant to a few other cases of Classic Maya rulers
associated with multiple place names.
The present study is based on a survey of place
names and their contexts in Classic Maya inscriptions (Tokovinine 2007a) that incorporated all references to toponyms on monuments, buildings, and
portable objects in the Southern Maya Lowlands. In
contrast to previous place name studies, this survey
included direct references to places and all occurrences of place names in personal names and titles.
When possible, full sentences with place names were
transcribed and transliterated. Nevertheless, the sample considered here suffers from certain constraints
which are inherent in any study of Classic Maya

People from a Place: Re-Interpreting Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs

Figure 2. Map of the Naranjo site center (Graham and Von Euw 1975).

texts. The bulk of the data comes from several major archaeological sites with large corpora of inscriptions1 (Figure 1, Table 1). Sites with small corpora
or with eroded or damaged monuments are underrepresented in the survey and do not offer enough
distinct contexts to explore the significance of local
place names. Finally, the sample is dominated by
eighth-century inscriptions. A study of place names
is inevitably a synchronic study of the eighth century
situation with some small digressions into diachronic
analysis when relevant samples are large enough.

core of the site is about 1 km2 and includes over 112


structures grouped in six triadic complexes, two palace compounds, one E-group, and two ball courts
(Figure 2). There used to be 49 monuments and one
hieroglyphic stairway at Naranjo. Most monuments
were documented by Graham, who also mapped the
central area of the site (Graham 1978, 1980; Graham
and Von Euw 1975). Over the last decade, Naranjo
suffered greatly from looting as over 100 looters
trenches and tunnels were dug into the main structures (Fialko 2004a, 2004b; Quintana and Wurster
2004).

Places and Titles of Naranjo Rulers


The site of Naranjo is located to the north of the
town of Melchor de Mencos near the GuatemalaBelize border. It was once the capital of one of the
largest and most powerful Classic Maya kingdoms in
Peten. Its political history has been investigated and
partially reconstructed in a number of publications
(Beliaev 2000; Culbert 1991; Grube 1994, 2000b,
2004b; Grube and Martin 2004; Houston 1986;
Martin 1996; Martin and Grube 2000b; Schele and
Grube 1994, 1995; Tokovinine 2007b; Tokovinine
and Fialko 2007). The monumental regal-ceremonial


a.

b.

c.

Figure 3. Key place names at Naranjo: a) ma-xa-ma maxam, NAR


Alt 1:C8 (CMHI 2:103); b) 6-KAB-NAL wak kab nal, NAR Alt 1:H4
(CMHI 2:103); c) SA-li saaal, NAR HS 1:N1 (CMHI 2:109).

Three place names are of particular significance in


the political landscape of Naranjo: Maxam, Wak kab
nal, and Saaal (Figure 3). Each of these terms is incorporated into the titles of Naranjo rulers and cor95

Alexandre Tokovinine

Context

Object

Site

lajuun hux winik u[?] u[?] u[?] kihnich lakam tuun yichnal itsamnaah kawiil winik chuwen uhtiiy maxam

St 8

NAR

pat tuun yax [T656] naah maxam

Alt 1

NAR

[x] wak kab nal [?] ukabjiiy kuhul saaal ajaw uhtiiy maxam

Alt 1

NAR

utsihb [?] ti itsaat aj-maxam

vase

MVD:K635

Table 2. Maxam examples in Classic Maya inscriptions.

Context

Object

Site

joyaj ti ajawil [?] [?] kahk [?] chan chaak itsamnaah kawiil [x] wak kab nal [?] kuhul saaal ajaw [?] waxak
winik baah kab

St 14

NAR

jahtsaj ubiih tuun [?] chan chaak kuhul saaal ajaw wak kab nal yook kin sak chuwen

Alt 2

NAR

uchokow aj-took ti wak kab nal winik

St 33

NAR

uchokow chaaj t-u-lajuun haab yichnal bolon [?] ajaw [?] kahk ukalaw chan chaak kuhul saaal ajaw wak
kab nal winik sak chuwen

St 19

NAR

[x] yax mayuy naah saaal [x] chan [x] kahk tiliw chan chaak kuhul saaal ajaw wak kab nal yook kin

St 1

NAR

witsaj ujol nahbaj chiich [?] [?] ukabjiiy uyajawte kuh wak kab nal aj-[?]

Alt 1

NAR

[x] wak kab nal [?] ukabjiiy kuh [?] saaal ajaw uhtiiy maxam

Alt 1

NAR

ubaah ti akab kal hun ubaahil aan [?] winik haab chajoom muyal chan yopaat kahk tiliw chan chaak kuhul
saaal ajaw wak kab nal yook kin

St 30

NAR

ubaah ti och chen yoots muyal ukalaw chan yopaat kahk tiliw chan chaak [?] kuhul saaal ajaw wak kab
nal yook kin lakin waxak winik [?]

St 21

NAR

Ln 2, T 4

TIK

Pl

HLM

[STAR.WAR] wak kab nal t-u-chen ik [?] kuh


[...] ulak ta ixim teel kakaw chak chok kelem chak ohl pitsiil itsaat pitsiil keeh [?] kawiil [?] kuhul saaal ajaw
sak chuwen wak kab nal ajaw
Table 3. Wak kab nal examples in Classic Maya inscriptions.

responds to a distinct spatial category with respect


to the site and its placement in a larger geopolitical
landscape. There are also enough distinct contexts for
each term to consider its meaning and function. The
place name of Maxam was identified by Stuart and
Houston (1994: 2124, Figure 24). It remains the
only known toponym for the entire site of Naranjo.
It is also the only Naranjo place name that occurs
with the uhtiiy (it happened [at]) expression. There
are only four examples of its use, but three of them
are direct contexts (Table 2). An event at Maxam in
deep time is mentioned in the inscription on Naranjo Altar 1. The very same text, however, goes on to
report a dedication of a panel (pat tuun) in a building
at Maxam in the reign of the 6th-century king. Finally, a text on a Terminal Classic Naranjo Stela 8 mentions a ceremony supervised by the king of Naranjo
Itsamnaah Kawiil that took place at Maxam. The last
two contexts clearly identify Maxam as the location
of the Naranjo royal court. The first context suggests
that Maxam was in fact believed to be a primordial
location of this court. Despite being such an important deep-time location, Maxam is not mentioned
outside of Naranjo. This place played little role in
defining the identity of the Naranjo rulers vis--vis
other royal dynasties.
96

The fourth known example of Maxam is highly


important. It occurs in the name of a scribe who
signs a vase painted for the Naranjo prince, the son of
Kahk Ukalaw Chan Chaak. The scribe refers to himself as a person from Maxam (aj-maxam). There is
no reason to believe that he was a member of the
royal family. It may sound trivial that there were nonroyal people, courtiers, priests, artisans, and farmers
living at Naranjo and associating themselves with the
site. However, this inscription is the only direct written indication that it was the case.
The second important place name in Naranjo inscriptions is Wak kab nal (Six Earth Place). It was
mentioned by Houston and colleagues (1992: 513)
but not discussed as a location. It was first identified
as a place name by Martin (1996: 225226) based on
his analysis of the inscription on Lintel 2 in Temple 4
at Tikal that describes a victorious star war against
Wak kab nal.
The identification of Wak kab nal as a place name
remains tentative because it is never explicitly mentioned as such (Table 3). Naranjo lords often claim
the title of Wak kab nal winik (Wak kab nal person)
or a poorly understood title Wak kab nal yookin. The
word winik could be omitted (NAR St6:E1; NAR
Alt1:H4; MVD: K4464). This tendency to omit

People from a Place: Re-Interpreting Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs

Context

Object

Site

Ukal tuun ti tahn lam [?] [?] kahk [?] chan chaak kuhul saaal ajaw sak chuwen

St 12

NAR

[x] yax mayuy naah saaal [x] chan [x] kahk tiliw chan chaak kuhul saaal ajaw wak kab nal yookin

St 1

NAR

[x] wak kab nal [?] ukabjiiy kuh [?] saaal ajaw uhtiiy maxam

Alt 1

NAR

[...] uwaxak lajuun winik tsakbuul [?] chiit kuh ik miin kuhul saaal ajaw

St 24

NAR

sihyaj kahk tiliw chan chaak kuhul saaal ajaw [...]

St 24

NAR

[x] hux winik haab ajaw kahk tiliw chan chaak wak kab yookin kuhul saaal ajaw

St 14

NAR

T 4 Ln 2

TIK

Viewed from inside

Viewed from outside


saaal
nawaj bolon [T544.501] aj-saaal

Str 5D-57

TIK

St 3

CRC

HS 1:6

NAR

St 3

NAR

huli wak ik [T217.686] hun nal pek saaal ix wak chan [?] [?] kuhul mutal ajaw

St 24

NAR

ochi [?] ti [?] wak ik [T217.686] hun nal pek saaal ix wak chan [?] [?] kuhul mutal ajaw

St 29

NAR

wak [?] saaal

St 45

NAR

wak ik [T217.686] hun nal

St 22

NAR

jubyi aj-saaal ukabjiiy [?] ohl kihnich kuhul kantu maak


[STAR.WAR-yi] saaal [...]
[STAR.WAR-yi] saaal ukabjiiy yuknoom [x]
The place of Saaal

Saaal gods
ajawaniiy [?] chiit kuh ik [?] [?] kuhul saaal ajaw

St 1

NAR

Utsakaw [?] kuh yeht kahk tiliw chan chaak kuhul saaal ajaw yitaaj nohol [?] xaman [?] aj-saaal

St 23

NAR

jahtsaj ubih tuun aj-[?] chan kihnich ukaba nohol [?] xaman [?] aj-saaal

Alt 2

NAR

pulyi [tu-[T756]-ma] [?] ukabjiiy aj-saaal

St 12

NAR

nawaj yikaats yaxa ajaw ukabjiiy kuhul aj-saaal

St 12

NAR

[...] wiiij utook upakal aj-saaal [...]

St 23

NAR

Royal and non-royal Saaal people?

Table 4. Some references to Saaal in Classic Maya inscriptions.

winik may explain the otherwise unique direct reference to Wak kab nal in the Tikal text mentioned
above: the victim of the attack is not the Wak kab
nal (place) but the Wak kab nal (person), the king
of Naranjo.
That said, the term Wak kab nal is similar to the
titles of the dancing Maize God on the so-called
Homul-style vessels: Wak hix nal, Wak chan nal, and
Wak chwen nal. Each Maize God ascends to a distinct place associated with a royal dynasty including
the rulers of Tikal and Calakmul (Tokovinine 2008:
280284). Houston and colleagues (1992) pointed
out that the titles of the Maize God refer to specific
supernatural locales represented as mountains in the
backracks of the Maize God figures. Wak kab nal may
belong to the same set linked to presumably mythical
events.
A dedicatory inscription on a plate from Holmul
features an otherwise unique title of Wak kab nal
ajaw (Wak kab nal lord) attributed to the Naranjo
ruler (Tokovinine 2006: 359360). A caption to the
main scene on the same plate refers to the Wak hix
nal Maize God, who commonly ascends to the seat
of Mutal (Tikal) rulers, as kuhul Mutal ajaw or holy


Mutal lord. There can be little doubt that the Wak


kab nal emblem glyph evokes a mythical location associated with the Maize God of Naranjo rulers. It
remains to be seen if any actual location at Naranjo
or its vicinity was identified as Wak kab nal.
The toponym Saaal is part of the main emblem
glyph of Naranjo kings, the title that serves to distinguish the members of this dynasty from other Classic Maya rulers in the inscriptions at Naranjo and
outside2 (Table 4). The title aj-saaal, person of/from
Saaal, is the most common way Naranjo rulers are
represented in the inscriptions at other sites. Saaal
alone is used to designate the domain of Naranjo
lords. The inscriptions on Stela 3 at Caracol and on
Hieroglyphic Stairway 1 at Naranjo that might also
originate from Caracol (Martin and Grube 2000a:
73) describe a military campaign against Naranjo as
a defeat of Saaal or as a downfall of the person (people) of Saaal. The text on Hieroglyphic Stairway 1
goes on to specify that Saaal is the chen, the holy
grounds of the Naranjo ruler (Tokovinine 2007b).
Another inscription, now from Tikal, refers to a captive presented by the local ruler Jasaw Chan Kawiil
as a person of/from Saaal.
97

Alexandre Tokovinine
Another important reference to Saaal appears in
the representation of a captured Naranjo palanquin
on Lintel 2 from Temple 4 at Tikal. The text and
image on the lintel, previously analyzed by Martin
(1996), describe the circumstances and the aftermath
of the victorious war that the Tikal ruler Yikin Chan
Kawiil waged against Naranjo. The main inscription
(Jones et al. 1982: Figure 73) informs of the defeat
of Wak kab nal [person] in the chen of Ik-[T1021]
and the capture of the royal palanquin. The base of
the captured palanquin depicted on the lintel is emblazoned with [SA] signs, which likely stand for the
Saaal place name.
Ik-[T1021], also known as a Square-Nosed
Beastie, is a divine founder of the Naranjo royal line
(Martin and Grube 2000a: 70; Grube and Martin
2004: 4; Tokovinine and Fialko 2007: 10, Figure 14).
According to Naranjo inscriptions, he acceded to
kingship either 22000 or 896000 years ago. Naranjo
rulers claimed the title of uyajawte kuh, those of the
lineage of the god (NAR Alt 1: H3I3). Deceased
Saaal lords could be even represented as avatars of
the divine founder (Tokovinine and Fialko 2007:
10). In other words, being a Saaal lord was as
much about governing Naranjo as being a descendant of Ik-[T1021].
There is some intriguing evidence that descent
from the Naranjo royal line could be enough to claim
the Saaal lord emblem glyph. For quite some time,
epigraphers have been puzzled by an inscription on
an unprovenanced Early Classic vase (MVD: K8763)
mentioning a certain Wak Chan Kawiil, the divine
lord of Saaal. The only known historical individual
from that time period would be Wak Chan Kawiil
of Tikal, although there was no indication that he
ever ruled at Naranjo (Martin 2005a: 68, Figures
12, 14). However, thanks to new insights from Tikal
and Naranjo inscriptions (Tokovinine and Fialko
2007: 1012), it seems that Wak Chan Kawiils
grandmother was from the Naranjo royal family. We
now know that it was Wak Chan Kawiils father who
started claiming Naranjo-related royal titles, even
though not the emblem glyph.
The rhetoric of the inscription on Lintel 2 from
Temple 4 at Tikal, therefore, evokes an underlying
notion of a political landscape of holy sites which
still belong to the founders of royal lines. In the
case of Naranjo, this site is Saaal. The fact that the
Naranjo royal palanquin is emblazoned with references to Saaal also suggests that such objects might
be intended as tangible representations or even ritual
transpositions of places like Saaal. A portable piece
of Saaal would literally allow Naranjo rulers to travel
98

without leaving their ancestral homeland. The conquest of Saaal would apparently involve capture and
relocation of these portable places.

a.

b.
Figure 4. Gods of Saaal: a) NAR St 23:G4-H6 (CMHI 2:60); b) NAR
Alt 2:B4-C1 (Grube 2004b: Figure 13).

Naranjo texts also suggest that the Square-Nosed


Beastie was not the only supernatural being associated with Saaal. The inscriptions on Altar 2 and Stela
23 (Table 4, Figure 4) mention of the activities undertaken by the king (dedication of a ball court and
an unknown ritual) in the presence of two supernaturals of undeciphered names, one associated with the
north and one with the south. In either case, these
deities are referred to as those of Saaal. In my opinion, it indicates that there were some gods specifically
associated with Saaal just as Naranjo kings were.
Another category of people potentially identifying themselves with Saaal were individuals of nonroyal descent. The text on Naranjo Stela 12 (Table
4) records several military campaigns undertaken by

People from a Place: Re-Interpreting Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs


different protagonists from Naranjo (the unlikely alternative would be to assume that the same person
is mentioned under different names). The intriguing
aspect of the inscription is that it distinguishes between people from Saaal and holy people from
Saaal, potentially implicating either royal or nonroyal status of the protagonists. However, this distinction remains rather unique. Nearly nothing is
known about non-royal individuals from Naranjo
and the names of people from Saaal in the Stela 12
inscription cannot be matched with names in other
Naranjo texts. Therefore, this hypothesis remains
rather speculative.
The examples discussed above, suggest that Saaal
was highly important for self-identification of Naranjo rulers and possibly for some of their subjects. Gods
were associated with Saaal and the first divine Saaal
lord acceded to kingship well in deep-time. The references to Saaal at Tikal and Caracol also seem to
imply that Saaal was an actual geographical location.
Although none of the examples above provided
any clues to what kind of location Saaal was and how
it was related to the site of Naranjo, it is possible to
identify the term Saaal with a specific part of the site
of Naranjo: the Triadic Acropolis C-9 (Figure 2). The
Triadic Acropolis C-9 is located in the easternmost
area of the site core. This architectural complex is
dominated by a massive mound known as Structure
C-9, measuring 79 x 55 m at its base and reaching
the height of 32 m. Two lines of carved stelae (Stelae
28, 29, 30, and 31 in the first row and Stelae 25, 26,
and 27 in the second row) once stood on a narrow
platform in front of the main stairway of the pyramid, whereas Stela 32 was located at the foot of that
sanctuary, upon the main terrace of the triadic group.
Three Late Classic monuments located in the Triadic Acropolis C-9 make reference to a certain place
name in the context of the arrival events constituting
important moments in the kingdoms history (Table
4). The narrative on Stela 24 placed in front of Structure C-7 mentions the arrival of queen Six Sky at
Naranjo, at a place called Wak ik [T217.686] hun
nal pek saaal or the six black headband place, the
flat hill top, the maize gruel place (Tokovinine and
Fialko 2007: Figure 11c). Three days later, according to the text on Stela 29 located in front of Structure C-9 itself, the queen entered a temple at Wak
ik [T217.686] hun nal pek saaal (Tokovinine and
Fialko 2007: Figure 11d). A decade later, the same
place saw the presentation of Itsamnaah Bahlam, the
captured ruler of Ucanal. The front of Stela 22 located across the courtyard from Stela 24 (Tokovinine and Fialko 2007: Figure 11e) shows victorious


Kahk Tiliw Chan Chaak seated on a throne on top


of a large zoomorphic place glyph that towers above
the kneeling Itsamnaah Bahlam. The forehead of that
place glyph features the Wak ik [T217.686] hun nal
sequence.
The surviving portion of the text on the left side
of the recently discovered Naranjo Stela 45 apparently makes reference to a seating event at [T217.686]
hun nal (Tokovinine and Fialko 2007: Figure 11b).
Given that one column of hieroglyphs is missing, it
is plausible to reconstruct the original inscription as
chumlaj *Wak *ik [T217.686] hun nal *pek *saaal.
Although, the original location of the stela is unknown, its remains were found in the lateral cuts
inside a looters tunnel that penetrates the western
faade of Structure C-9 at its base (Tokovinine and
Fialko 2007: 34, Figure 3). The fragments were apparently cached within a fill corresponding to the
Early Classic phase of the building. The stela might
have been placed before an earlier version of Structure C-9 or one of the two lateral pyramids.
The Triadic Acropolis C-9 is one of the oldest
architectural complexes at Naranjo. It might have
played a pivotal ceremonial role at Naranjo as early
as Late Preclassic: plain stelae were placed in front of
the Late Chicanel phase of Structure C-9 (Tokovinine and Fialko 2007: Figure 3; Fialko et al. 2004).
Stela 45 would not be the first monument dedicated
in that location. Famous rulers of Naranjo, Ajwosaaj
Chan Kihnich, Lady Six Sky, and Kahk Tiliw
Chan Chaak, chose that place as a setting of the most
elaborate groups of carved stelae (Martin and Grube
2000a: 7175). C-9 is the largest triadic acropolis in
the city. Its main pyramid is the tallest building at
Naranjo. It occupies the top of a natural hill with
a cave inside (Tokovinine and Fialko 2007: Figure
3)a perfect candidate for a local sacred mountain
with a chen.
It is important to consider alternative ways of interpreting the data. Four monuments located at the
Acropolis refer to various events happening at this
location. Two inscriptions feature deictic verbs huli
to arrive (here) implying that here corresponds to
a string of names ending in Saaal. We could interpret
the long sequence Wak ik [T217.686] hun nal pek
saaal as several place names arranged by order of importance. However, that would not explain why other monuments located elsewhere at Naranjo do not
mention any of these place names including Saaal.
In particular, Maxam would have to be followed by
Saaal or would have to be incorporated in the sequence associated with the Acropolis. Since it does
not happen, the implication is that the place names
99

Alexandre Tokovinine
Saaal and Maxam are mutually exclusive and refer to
different areas of the site. This conclusion does not
necessarily disprove the idea of several place names
within the Wak ik [T217.686] hun nal pek saaal sequence, but it strongly supports the hypothesis that
all of them refer to the Triadic Acropolis C-9 or its
parts.
In summary, the relationship between the political landscape and the identity of the Naranjo kings is
complex and multilayered, evoking different systems
of references and different tropes. Naranjo lords oriented themselves in at least three distinct mapsone
of local place names, one of mythical Maize God
toponyms, and one of sacred temples, the latter being
the most salient in the written discourse. The place
name for the site of Naranjo or its largest section was
Maxam. For some reason, this place name was not
important for the outsiders as a term that immediately identified those of Naranjo. However, it was
significant for local identities including the identities
of non-royal people. Kings of Naranjo also associated
themselves, just like kings of several other ancient dynasties with a mythical location of Wak kab nal and
probably with a particular form of the Maize God
linked to this place name. Nevertheless, the most
sacred place (temple/cave) at Naranjo was Saaal. It
Object

was linked to local gods, kings, and maybe even nonroyal individuals. It distinguished the inhabitants of
Naranjo from everybody else on the Classic political
landscape. Saaal was the only known chen associated
with Naranjo in the inscriptions. Available data suggest that it was not the designation of the territory
under the control of Naranjo rulers, but rather part
of the name of a particular hill with a temple complex within the core of the site.
Discussion:
Emblem Glyphs and Other Places
The idea that the most important place name is
not necessarily the largest spatial unit in the political landscape of a Classic Maya kingdom or that the
kingdom is not represented as a distinct spatial category in Classic Maya inscriptions may seem hard to
accept. Nevertheless, the inscriptions at other Classic
Maya sites reveal patterns, which are similar to what
we have just discovered in the case of Naranjo.
One of the most striking examples of the kind is
provided by the texts from the site of Copan in Honduras at the southeastern periphery of the Classic
Maya world (Figure 5, Table 5). The undeciphered

Full Context

Hux wintik
Alt A

[...] i patlaj kihnich yax kuk mo nal [x] kuh hux wintik chan chen

Alt L

aj hux wintik chan [x]

Alt Q

hili ookel kawiil ochkin kaloomte yitaaj huli hux wintik

St 12

[...] yitaaj tahnlamaj chanal kuh [...] kahk uti wits kawiil hux wintik [...]

St B

mo wits chan [T1021] chan ha [?] nal hux wintik

St J

cham kihnich kuk mo hux yop hun yichnal umam kuh usak kuh uhtiiy hux wintik chan chen

T 11 HS

i pat kuhul [?] ti waxak eb hux lajuun chak at naah [?] [?] yax chiit hux wintik chan chen [...]

T 11 Pn

Haa [?] chan makoom chan [?] [x] koknoom hux wintik

T 11 Pn

[?] kuy [?] ajaw mo wits ajaw tukun wits ajaw haoob koknoom hux wintik

T21a Stp

[...] ubaahil aan kuy [?] ajaw mo wits ajaw tukun wits ajaw bolon kawiil koknoom hux wintik

[[T756d]-pi] in direct references


T 11 Bn

ochi kahk kuhul [[T756]-pu] naah yotoot kihnich yax kuk mo [?] kihnich [?] kal tuun hix [?] uh chan ahk yajaw kin [?] ochkin
kaloomte

St 10

[x] ubaah tsih pik chan nal kuh tsih pik kabal kuh [x] ti way [T24] nahb nal [[T756d]-pi] chan chen

St I

[...] utsakaj waxak hew lajuun winikjiiy ta lajuun lamat [...] [x] [[T756d]-pi] [x] chen

St P

ubaah [x] ti akab ti chab [?] yut kab [[T756d]-la] [...]

[[T756d]-pi] and Hux wintik in the same contexts


St N Bs

ajawani [] kahk yipyaj [x] kawiil yunen itsam kan ahk ajaw [[T756d]-pi] [?] hux wintik [x]

St 10

[x] [[T756d]-pi] chan chen hux wintik

St P

[...] upatnaj [?] tuun hux wintik och chenaj [[T756d]-pi] [...]

Chan [T1021] chan


St A

haoob chan te chan chan [T1021] chan chan ni chan chan may chan kuhul [[T756]-pi] ajaw kuhul mutal ajaw kuhul kanal
ajaw kuhul baakaal ajaw [?] [T24] chan [T24] kab lakin ochkin nohol xaman haoob pasnoom way maknoom way ti tahn lam

Table 5. Hux wintik and [[T756d]-pi] place names at Copan.

100

People from a Place: Re-Interpreting Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs

a.

c.

b.

d.

e.
Figure 5. Copan place names: a) T756d [T756d] (CPN St A); b) 3-wini-ti-ki Hux wintik (CPN St 10); c) MO-wi-WITS Mo wits (CPN St
B); d) 4-T1021-CHAN-na Chan [T1021] chan (CPN St B); e) WATER.
DOG-HA-NAL [WATER.DOG] ha nal (CPN St B).

place name in the emblem glyph of Copan rulers is


spelled as [[T756]-pi-pu] or as [[T756d]-pi]. As in
the case of Saaal, the toponym in the Copan emblem
glyph is used to refer to an actual location at or near
the site. According to the inscription on Copan Stela
I, the first known event at [[T756d]-pi] chen happens in AD 159, well before the arrival of the first
king of the dynasty (Stuart 2004: 217219).
However, it is not the only toponym associated
with Copan. Hux wintik is the most prominent place
name in the inscriptions at the site and was identified
as such by Stuart and Houston (1994: 2326; Table
5). Key events in the history of Copan rulers such as
the arrival of the dynastic founder Kihnich Yax Kuk
Mo after a pilgrimage to a distant place known as
Wite Naah (Stuart 2004: 232239) were linked to
Hux wintik and not [[T756d]-pi]. The text on Copan
Altar A mentions the rituals at the Jom tok house in
the Yax Kuk Mo place and concludes with placing
the events at Hux wintik. The four patron gods of
Copan are the guardians (koknoom) of Hux wintik.
The two place names sometimes appear together,
Hux wintik following [T756d]. None of the simultaneous references to the two place names occur in
well-preserved and readable inscriptions. The passage
on Stela 10 likely refers to the period ending events
because it is the main theme of the inscription. The
text on the base of Stela N refers to the royal accession. Nevertheless, it is clear that we are dealing with


either two nearby places or a hierarchy of two overlapping spatial domains.


The first clue to the relation between the two
place names comes from the narratives on the monuments in the Copan Great Plaza. The inscription
on the back of Stela B lists a sequence of four place
names, presumably in an increasing order of importance or inclusivity. The first place name is Mo wits
and it likely corresponds to the stela itself because the
monument is tagged in the dedicatory text as a representation of the Mo wits ajaw (Macaw mountain
lord) and shows this guardian god of Copan as a
lord standing inside a mountain topped with macaw
heads.
The second place on the back of Stela B is Chan
[T1021] chan, literally four Square-Nosed Beastie(s)
sky (or skies). This place name re-appears on the
nearby Stela A. The narrative on that stela goes into
great detail describing the ritual opening and closing
of the cruciform enclosure near the monument as part
of the period ending ceremonies (Schele and Grube
1990; Schele and Mathews 1998: 160161). The
inscription mentions four supernatural place names
(Chan te chan, Chan [T1021] chan, Chan ni chan,
and Chan may chan), four holy lords of [[T756]-pi],
Mutal, Kanul, and Baakal, and four cardinal directions in the context of the ritual. Consequently, Chan
[T1021] chan could be a mythical toponym evoked
on both monuments or a designation for a section
of the plaza where some events described on Stela
A took place (or both). The peculiar order of place
names on Stela A seemingly links Chan [T1021] chan
to the western direction and Stela B is located in the
western section of the Great Plaza.
The third and the forth place names on Stela B
are Ha [?] nal and Hux wintik. Given that Hux wintik is the highest-order place name, the absence of
[[T756d]-pi] in the list is remarkable. It likely means
that [[T756d]-pi] and one of the lower-order place
names on Stela B, most likely Ha [?] nal (a term for
the Great Plaza itself?), are mutually exclusive in a
sense of designating distinct spatial entities within
Hux wintik.
Another clue to the location of the relationship
between the toponyms of Hux wintik and [[T756d]pi] is provided by the inscription on the Early Classic
bench from the Temple 11-sub. The area of Temple
11 is part of Copan Acropolis within Hux wintik as
seemingly indicated by the text on Altar Q mentioned above and by the inscription on the Reviewing Stand on the southern faade of a later version of
Temple 11 (Stuart and Houston 1994: Figure 25c).
However, the text on the bench mentions a fire-en101

Alexandre Tokovinine

Place Name

Context

Object

Site

Mutal and Yax Mutal


[?] haab nal yax mutal

patlaj lajuun akan chapaht haab nal yax mutal chan chen

Ln 3

TIK T 4

bolon tsakbuul [?] nal


chan chen mutal

tsutsyi bolon pik [...] uhtiiy bolon tsakbuul [?] nal chan chen mutal

St 31

TIK

kin [?] nal yax mutal

kin palaw nal yax mutal chen (place register)

St 1

TIK

kin [?] nal yax mutal

uhti kin palaw nal yax mutal chan chen

St 1

TIK

mutal

huli mutal chen jo noh wits waxak lajuun ubaah kan [...]

BCM

TIK

mutal

huli sihyaj kahk kaloomte aj-[?] mutal chan chen

BCM

TIK

mutal

[...] patwaan tahn chen mutal

Ln 3

TIK T 1

yax mutal

yax mutal chan chen (place register)

St 39

TIK

yax mutal

yax mutal chen (place register)

Alt 8

TIK

yax mutal

utsutsuw bolonlajuun winik haab uhti yax mutal chan chen ta uchen [x]

St 39

TIK

mutal

chumlaj ta [?] [?] [?] kan chitam ehb xook [?] nahb nal kihnich [?] ochkin kawiil
uhtiiy mutal chen

St 40

TIK

Table 6. Direct references to Mutal place name in Tikal inscriptions.

tering into a holy [[T756]-pu] house. This house


belongs to all Early Classic Copan rulers according
to the rest of the inscription. Consequently, one may
interpret the name of the house metaphorically, as
a name of the dynastic house. On the other hand,
a straightforward interpretation would be that the
house is simply located at the section of the site that
is called [[T756]-pu]. In any case, it is the only clearly
self-referential text involving the place name in the
Copan emblem glyph.
Therefore, the place name in the emblem glyph
of Copan rulers likely corresponds to a section of
the site, possibly the area of the Acropolis. The second place name, Hux wintik, appears to designate
a greater spatial domain. It is also mentioned more
frequently as a location of various historical events.
However, it is clearly less important in terms of the
self identification of Copan lords.
The inscriptions from the Classic Maya site of
Tikal are cited as another example of a distinction
between Mutal as the name of the polity in the emblem glyph and Yax Mutal as the name of the ancient city (Martin and Grube 2000a: 30). However, a
closer look at the Tikal inscriptions (Table 6) reveals
no consistent pattern in the use of Yax Mutal chen
versus Mutal chen. The likeliest explanation of this
apparent lack of pattern is that Yax Mutal is just a
more elaborate version of the same place name. In
fact, the inscription and the place register on Tikal
Stela 1 appear to contain a fuller version of the same
place name as Kihn palaw yax mutal (Hot Ocean
Green/Blue/First Mutal).
Just as Copan Hux wintik, (Yax) Mutal is a higher-order place name and can incorporate other place
names. Like in the case of Copan Stela 10, the best
102

indicator of such incorporation is when the expression chan chen appears between the lower-order
place name and (Yax) Mutal as in the case of the text
on Tikal Stela 31. On the other hand, that passage
on Stela 31 remains unique among references to
other place names at Tikal, which are not followed
by (Yax) Mutal. That list includes Kahk Wits, the location of 8.18.0.0.0 period-ending, the place names
associated with the period endings on Stele 16, 20,
and 22 (Stuart and Houston 1994: 8185), the place
name on Stela 5, as well as four other presumably
historical place names in the inscription on Stela 31
(Stuart and Houston 1994: Figure 58). I believe, that
this situation still leaves open a possibility that Yax
Mutal corresponds to a particular location within
Tikal, possibly one of the main temple groups like
the North Acropolis.
Another complicated case of emblem glyphs in
place names is represented by the titles of the rulers
of the Classic Maya site of Palenque (Table 7, Figure 6). Late Classic rulers of Palenque take the title
of Matwiil lords and Baakal lords (Martin and
Grube 2000a: 155160), but the actual place name
for Palenque is Lakam ha (Stuart and Houston 1994:
3031). Some of the earliest events in the history of
the Palenque dynasty take place at Tok tahn and some
early kings carry the emblem glyph of Tok tahn
lords (Martin and Grube 2000a: 156157).
Nevertheless, it does not mean that Matwiil, Tok
than, or Baakal were the names of a territory or territories controlled by Palenque rulers. Matwiil is a
mythical place name associated with the origins of
the Palenque dynasty and its tutelary gods and possibly even re-created as a setting for the Temple of the
Foliated Cross at the site (Stuart 2005: 7983, 169,

People from a Place: Re-Interpreting Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs

Full Context

Object

Site

hux kal hun muwaan jol pakal [?] yichnal kihnich kan bahlam uhtiiy baakal

St 4

MRL

[...] uhtiiy tahn ha baakal

Mn 6

TRT

Baakal

Lakam ha
Chahkaj lakam ha

HS 1

PAL Palace

[...] i patlaj lakam ha chan chen

Tb

PAL Palace

[...] uhtiiy lakam ha chan chen

Tb

PAL TFC

Uhuxtal tsakaw kuh patlaj lakam ha chan chen yehmal kuk wits

Tb

PAL TS

sutyi lakam ha butsaj sak chik

Tb

PAL T 17

chum tuun i patlaj yehmal kuk wits lakam ha

Pn

PAL

ochotoot naah wak chan [?] [] patlaj lakam ha chan chen

Bl

PAL TC

chahkaj lakam ha

Tb

PAL TI

unaah kal tuun [...] uhtiiy tahn chen lakam ha

Tb

PAL T 19

Jmb

PAL T 18

Bl

PAL TFC

Jmb

PAL TC

[...] uhti yehmal kuk lakam wits lakam ha


ochotootaj [T225] kan [T214.610] naah [...] patlaj lakam ha chan chen
[...] uhux lajuun winik haab [x] lakam ha chan chen
Matwiil
kan [T210] ha matwiil

Tb

PAL TFC

[...] uhtiiy matwiil

Jmb

PAL T 18

[...] i huli matwiil

Tb

PAL TC

utal kab matwiil ubaah uchabil akabil mat muwaan hux [ya-[T831]-le] ixiim

Tb

PAL TC

huliiy chok unen kawiil matwiil

Tb

PAL TFC

utal kab matwiil unen kawiil

Bl

PAL TFC

utal kab matwiil ubaah uchab [T69.610] nal ixiim mat muwaan

Tb

PAL T 19

sihyaj juun yeh nal [T1011] utal kab matwiil

Tb

PAL T 19

[...] i huli matwiil

Tb

PAL TS

utal kab matwiil [x]

Bl

PAL TS

utal kab [T1011] matwiil

Pn

PAL TC

kalwaniiy ta ookteel kan joy chitam uhtiiy tok tahn

Tb

PAL TS

utsutsuw bolon pik tok than

Tb

PAL TC

Tok tahn

Table 7. Direct references to Matwiil, Baakal, and Lakam ha in Classic Maya texts.

a.

c.

b.

d.

Figure 6. Palenque place names: a) BAAK-a Baakal; b) to-koTAHN-na Tok tahn; c) ma-ta-wi-la Matwiil (PAL Temple of the Cross
Tb); d) LAKAM-HA Lakam ha (PAL Temple 17 Tb).

2006: 94; Stuart and Houston 1994: 7377). There


is not a single reference to historical events at Matwiil in the inscriptions at Palenque. Tok tahn is likely


the Early Classic seat of the dynasty. It is mentioned


as a location of the period-ending ritual in AD 435
(9.0.0.0.0). The last direct reference to Tok tahn dates
back to AD 496.
The Baakal case is complicated by the fact that
the rulers of the site of Tortuguero claim the same
emblem glyph, possibly as a result of a dynastic split
(Martin and Grube 2000a: 165). There are only two
references to Baakal as a physical location and neither comes from Palenque. The inscription on Tortuguero Monument 6 mentionsin a reference to
an unknown eventthat it happens in the midst of
the waters of Baakal. The text on Stela 4 from the
site of Moral refers to the accession of a local lord
before the eyes of the Palenque ruler that happens
at Baakal (Martin 2003). Neither context is strong
enough to argue that there is a greater spatial entity
named Baakal or that Baakal is Tortuguero. There
103

Alexandre Tokovinine
are no direct references to Baakal either at Palenque
or at Tortuguero in the context of dedications of new
buildings or monuments. Therefore, Baakal could
be a distinct location in the vicinity of Palenque and
Tortuguero.
In summary, just as in the Naranjo case, the inscriptions from Copan, Tikal, and Palenque offered
no convincing evidence that the toponyms in the
emblem glyphs stood for the largest spatial entities or
for the territorial extent of the political power of local
rulers. When a measure of correspondence between
a place name and physical landscape can be established, the toponyms in the emblem glyphs denote
areas of archaeological sites. The significance of other
emblem glyph places seems to be based on their link
to the origins of royal dynasties and their present or
past seats of power.
Concluding Remarks
As we have seen above, place names in emblems
glyphs do not denote a distinct class of spatial entities. They may correspond to archaeological sites or
even smaller areas. In other words, the place of choice
for the emblem glyph is not necessarily the largest
spatial entity attested in the inscriptions at a given
site. In fact, the examples discussed above suggest
that the place name in the emblem glyph may denote
a rather small section of the site that is, nevertheless,
more important than others in defining ones identity.
Emblem glyph place names are the most salient
features of the ideational landscape that defines a particular ruling dynasty vis--vis other dynasties: these
places dominate the written discourse. The Naranjo
case suggests that such salience can also corresponds
to the physical manifestation of the political landscapethe largest temple at the site with exceptional
evidence of ritual activity undertaken by local rulers.
The emblem glyph place name is often related to
the deep time history of the dynasty that may or may
not be associated with its current location. As such
ones affiliation to a place of origin may pass through
descent. This observation, however, does not imply
that this place cannot be re-created in permanent architecture or in temporal installations on certain occasions, visited through pilgrimages or evoked in any
other way.

104

Notes
Abbreviations for archaeological sites and types of
inscribed objects in this paper follow the guidelines of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions (Graham et al. 1975). In addition, MVD
and K-numbers are used for photographs of Classic Maya vessels in Kerrs online data base (Kerr
n.d.).
2
See Tokovinine and Fialko (2007: 1) for a discussion of various spellings of the Naranjo emblem
glyph and the arguments in support of the saaal
reading.
1

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