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Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz,

Yucatn, Mexico

A Study of the Inscriptions, Iconography, and Architecture at a


Late Classic to Early Postclassic Maya Site

Proefschrift

ter verkrijging van


de graad van Doctor aan de Universiteit Leiden,
op gezag van de Rector Magnicus Dr. D.D. Breimer,
hoogleraar in de faculteit der Wiskunde en
Natuurwetenschappen en die der Geneeskunde,
volgens besluit van het College voor Promoties
te verdedigen op donderdag 10 februari 2005
klokke 15.15 uur

door

Erik Boot
geboren te s Gravenhage
in 1962

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Promotiecommissie

Promotoren Prof. Dr. W. F. H. Adelaar


Prof. Dr. M. E. R. G. N. Jansen

Referent Prof. Dr. N. K. Grube (Universiteit Bonn, Duitsland)

Overige leden Prof. Dr. H. J. M. Claessen


Prof. Dr. J. G. Oosten
Prof. Dr. B. Riese (Universiteit Bonn, Duitsland)
Prof. Dr. P. Silva
Prof. Dr. R. A. M. van Zantwijk

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Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz,
Yucatn, Mexico

A Study of the Inscriptions, Iconography, and Architecture at a


Late Classic to Early Postclassic Maya Site

Erik Boot

CNWS Publications
Leiden
2005

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CNWS Publications
CNWS publishes books and journals which advance scholarly research in Asian, African and Amerindian
Studies. CNWS Publications is part of the Research School of Asian, African and Amerindian Studies
(CNWS) at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

All correspondence should be addressed to:


CNWS Publications
c/o Research School CNWS
Leiden University
PO Box 9515, 2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands.

Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico. A Study of the Inscriptions,
Iconography, and Architecture at a Late Classic to Early Postclassic Maya Site
Erik Boot

Leiden: CNWS Publications.


(CNWS Publications, Vol. 135)
ISBN: 90-5789-100-X
Subject headings: Guatemala, Mexico, Maya, Itz, Chichn Itz, Archaeology, Epigraphy,
Ethnohistory

Printing: Ridderprint, Ridderkerk.


Layout: Jadranka Njegovan
Cover design: Jadranka Njegovan
Cover illustration: Las Monjas, Lintel 5, Front (drawing by Erik Boot)

Copyright 2005 Research School CNWS,


Universiteit Leiden, The Netherlands

Copyright reserved.
Subject to the exceptions provided for by law, no part of this publication may be reproduced and/or
published in print, by photocopying, on microlm or in any other way without the written consent of
the copyright-holder(s); the same applies to whole or partial adaptations.
The publisher retains the sole right to collect from third parties fees in respect of copying and/or take
legal or other action for this purpose.

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To my parents,
Henk Boot and Emmy Boot-Prins

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If a man will begin with certainties,
he shall end in doubts;
but if he will be content to begin
with doubts he shall end in
certainties.

The Advancement of Learning (1605),


Francis Bacon

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Contents

List of Figures xi
List of Tables xvi
List of Maps xvii

Preface 1
A Note on Orthography 3
A Note on Personal Communication 6

Chapter 1
Introduction to the Study of Chichn Itz 7
1.0 Introduction 7
1.1 Objectives and Organization 9
1.2 Background: Chichn Itz, the Maya Area, and Mesoamerica 12
1.3 Sources and Methodology 18
End Notes 20

Chapter 2
On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 23
2.0 Introduction 23
2.1 Previous Research on the Identity and Historical Role of the Itz 25
2.2 A Reason to Migrate: The Classic Maya Collapse 31
2.3 The Origin and History of the Itz: A Reconstruction 35
2.3.1 The Itz and the Southern Maya Lowlands, ca. A.D. 550-900 36
The Distribution of the Collocations Itza and Chanek /Kanek 36
The Analysis of a Regional Iconographic Complex: Machaquil-Seibal-Ucanal 49
The Possible Circumstances and Timing of the Itz Migration 79
2.3.2 The Itz and the Northern Maya Lowlands, circa A.D. 650-1450 85
The Arrival Events of the Itz in Yucatn 90
The Katun Periods After the Arrival of the Itz 109
Ceramics and the Hieroglyphic Record at Chichn Itz 124
The Dating of the Iconographic Style at Chichn Itz 128
The Collocations Itza and Kanek at Chichn Itz 136
The Next Era of Migrations 142
The Later Migrations to Tan Xuluk Mul and Ox Kin Kiwik 150
A Record of Katuns Named 8 Ahaw 162
2.3.3 The Itz and the Southern Maya Lowlands, circa A.D. 900-1700 162
The Arrivals from the North: A.D. 900-1200 163
The Meeting of Corts and Kanek (A.D. 1525) 164
The Visits of Orbita and Fuensalida to Kanek (A.D. 1618-19) 166
The Visit of Avedao y Loyola (A.D. 1696) and the Final Conquest (A.D. 1697) 170
2.4 Final Remarks and Conclusions 179
End Notes 183

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viii Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Chapter 3
The Arrival of Kukulkan and the Legitimacy of Itz Lordship at Chichn Itz 195
3.0 Introduction 195
3.1 The Arrival of Kukulkn 197
3.2 Other References to Kukulkn in the Books of Chilam Balam 211
3.3 Nacxit and Paramount Lordship in the Guatemalan Highlands 217
3.4 Quetzalcoatl and the Legitimization of Paramount Lordship 221
3.5 The Accession of Intrusive Rulers in Mesoamerica 225
3.6 Tollan, Feathered Serpents, and War Serpents 243
3.7 Chichn Itz and Tula, an Alternative View 264
3.8 Final Remarks and Conclusions 269
End Notes 272

Chapter 4
Of Gods and Human Beings in the Inscriptions at Chichn Itz between ca. A.D. 869-890 285
4.0 Introduction 285
4.1 An Overview of the Decipherment of the Inscriptions at Chichn Itz 286
4.2 Three Specic Decipherments 294
4.2.1 The Collocation yitah 294
4.2.2 The Collocation Kanal Kuh 297
4.2.3 The T761var-le Title as Kuhul A(h) Chel Wah 299
4.3 A Chronological Analysis of the Inscriptions at the Time of Kakupakal(A.D. 869-890) 302
4.3.1 The Setting of the Stage, A.D. 869-870 303
4.3.2 The Yul Lintels, A.D. 873-874 312
4.3.3 The Initial Series Lintel and Temple of Three Lintels: A.D. 878-879 318
4.3.4 A Series of Dedications at the Las Monjas Building, A.D. 880 324
4.3.5 The Dedication of the Sanctuaries of the Gods, A.D. 881 335
4.3.6 The Last of Kakupakal, A.D. 884-890 344
4.4 The Major Gods and Paramount Men and Women of Chichn Itz 351
4.5 Final Remarks and Conclusions 363
End Notes 364

Chapter 5
Paramount Lordship and Political Organizationat Chichn Itz 377
5.0 Introduction 377
5.1 Chichn Itz and the Proposal of Multepal 378
5.2 Classic Maya Paramount Lordship and Political Organization 382
5.3 The Iconography and Architecture of Paramount Lordship 389
5.3.1 The Southern Maya Lowlands 390
5.3.2 Chichn Itz 401
5.4 A Critique on the Proposal of Multepal 416
5.5 Political Organization at Chichn Itz 424
5.5.1 Inscriptions 424
5.5.2 Iconography and Sculpture 429
5.5.3 Architecture and Settlement Pattern 430

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Contents ix

5.5.4 Ethnohistorical Sources 435


5.5.5 A Proposal 439
5.6 Final Remarks and Conclusions 440
End Notes 442

Chapter 6
Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz 453
6.0 Introduction 453
6.1 The Identity of the Itz 453
6.2 Toltec Architecture and Iconography at Chichn Itz 456
6.3 The Contents of the Inscriptions at Chichn Itz 457
6.4 Political Organization at Chichn Itz 459
6.5 Text and Image at Chichn Itz 461
6.5.1 Continuity and Change in Text 461
6.5.2 Continuity and Change in Image 462
6.6 Conclusions and Suggestions for Further Research 462

Appendix A
The Chronicles in the Books of Chilam Balam:
Transcription, Morpheme Identication, and Translation 467
A.0 Introduction 467
A.1 Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel 468
First Chumayel Chronicle: Transcription 468
First Chumayel Chronicle: Morpheme Identication 470
First Chumayel Chronicle: Translation 472
First Chumayel Chronicle: Chronology 474
Second Chumayel Chronicle: Transcription 476
Second Chumayel Chronicle: Morpheme Identication 477
Second Chumayel Chronicle: Translation 478
Second Chumayel Chronicle: Chronology 479
Third Chumayel Chronicle: Transcription 480
Third Chumayel Chronicle: Morpheme Identication 481
Third Chumayel Chronicle: Translation 483
Third Chumayel Chronicle: Chronology 485
A.2 Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimn 486
Tizimin Chronicle: Transcription 486
Tizimin Chronicle: Morpheme Identication 488
Tizimn Chronicle: Translation 489
Tizimn Chronicle: Chronology 491
A.3 Book of Chilam Balam of Man 494
Man Chronicle: Transcription 494
Man Chronicle: Morpheme Identication 496
Man Chronicle: Translation 498
Man Chronicle: Chronology 500
A.4 The Chronologies 503

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x Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Appendix B
North of Lake Petn Itz: A Regional Perspective on the cha-TAN-na/cha-ta Collocation 505
B.0 Introduction 505
B.1 The cha-TAN-na/cha-ta Collocations 505
B.2 Chata among the Historical Itz in the Central Petn 511
B.3 Conclusions 512
B.4 Postscript (May 2001) 512
End Notes 513

Bibliography 517

Nederlandse Samenvatting 577

Curriculum vitae 581

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Contents xi

List of Figures

Chapter 2
Figure 2.1 Kerr No. 6547: Incised Early Classic Black Ware Ceramic
(drawing by Stephen Houston) 36
Figure 2.2 Bottom Part of Central Text Panel, Motul de San Jos, Stela 1
(drawing by Alexander Vo) 38
Figure 2.3 Two Unprovenanced Painted Ceramic Vessels: a) Kerr No. 4387,
b) Kerr No. 4909 (drawings by Dorie Reents-Budet) 40
Figure 2.4 Kerr No. 8732, Unprovenanced Carved Ceramic Vessel (drawing by the author) 41
Figure 2.5 Xultn, Stela 24: Upper Part of Stela Showing Serpent Set with Star Signs
(drawing in Von Euw and Graham 1984: 84) 42
Figure 2.6 Pusilh, Stela D: Part of Text on Front of Stela (E6-F7)
(preliminary drawing by Christian Prager) 42
Figure 2.7 Yaxchiln, Stela 10, Riverside (drawing by Carolyn Tate [1992: Fig. 130a]) 44
Figure 2.8 Seibal, Stela 11: Upper Text Panel (drawing by Linda Schele) 45
Figure 2.9 Seibal, Stela 10: Bottom Part of Left Text Panel (drawing by Linda Schele) 46
Figure 2.10 Machaquil, Stela 10 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 61]) 50
Figure 2.11 Machaquil, Stela 11 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 63]) 51
Figure 2.12 Dos Pilas, Stelae 11 and 14 (drawings by Stephen Houston) 53
Figure 2.13 Dos Pilas, Stela 15 (drawing by Stephen Houston) 53
Figure 2.14 Machaquil, Stela 2 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 44]) 55
Figure 2.15 Machaquil, Stela 3 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 49]) 55
Figure 2.16 Machaquil, Stela 4 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 51]) 57
Figure 2.17 Machaquil, Stela 8 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 59]) 57
Figure 2.18 Machaquil, Stela 7 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 57]) 58
Figure 2.19 Machaquil, Stela 6 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 55]) 58
Figure 2.20 Machaquil, Stela 5 (drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 53]) 59
Figure 2.21 Panhale, Stela 1 (preliminary drawing by Ian Graham) 61
Figure 2.22 Seibal, Stela 7 (drawing by John Montgomery) 63
Figure 2.23 Seibal, Stela 11 (drawing by John Montgomery) 63
Figure 2.24 Seibal, Stela 10 (drawing by John Montgomery) 66
Figure 2.25 Seibal, Stela 9 (drawing by John Montgomery) 68
Figure 2.26 Seibal, Stela 8 (drawing by Linda Schele) 69
Figure 2.27 Seibal, Stela 21 (drawing by Linda Schele) 70
Figure 2.28 Ucanal, Stela 4 (drawing by Ian Graham [1980: 159]) 72
Figure 2.29 Seibal, Stela 14 (drawing by John Montgomery) 75
Figure 2.30 Seibal, Stela 4 (drawing by James B. Porter [J. A. Graham 1990: Fig. 36]) 76
Figure 2.31 Seibal, Stela 1 (drawing by John Montgomery) 77
Figure 2.32 Seibal, Stela 20 (drawing by James B. Porter) 77
Figure 2.33 Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, MS 72 (in Gordon 1913) 103
Figure 2.34 Chichn Itz, Las Monjas Building: Sabak Collocations
(drawings by Ian Graham, arrangement by the author) 108
Figure 2.35 Chichn Itz, Caracol Building, Tenoned Disk:
Front Image and Circumference Text (drawings by Alexander Vo) 116

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xii Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Figure 2.36 Nimli Punit, Stela 15, Front (drawing by John Montgomery) 117
Figure 2.37 El Cayo, Altar 4, Top (drawing by Peter Mathews) 117
Figure 2.38 Yaxchiln, Lintel 25 (drawing by Ian Graham [Graham and Von Euw 1977: 55]) 118
Figure 2.39 Copn, Stela 6 (drawing by Linda Schele) 119
Figure 2.40 Chichn Itz, Great Ballcourt, Hemispherical Stone: Circular Text and
In-the-Round Top Image (drawings by Ruth Krochock [Wren, Schmidt,
and Krochock 1989: Figs. 1 & 2]) 129
Figure 2.41 Chichn Itz, Great Ballcourt, Playing Alley, Central Panel East
(drawing by John Montgomery) 130
Figure 2.42 Chichn Itz, High Priests Grave, Pillar 4 (drawing by Peter Mathews) 131
Figure 2.43 Halakal, Lintel (drawing by Alexander Vo) 132
Figure 2.44 Examples of Knife-Wing Bird Iconography at Chichn Itz, Yul, and Seibal:
a) Yul (drawing by Ruth Krochock, b) Chichn Itz (drawing by Ruth Krochock),
c) Chichn Itz (drawing by Bruce Love), d) Seibal (drawing by James B. Porter) 133
Figure 2.45 The Epithet Hun Yahawal Winik: Las Monjas and Halakal
(drawings by Ian Graham and Eric Von Euw; arrangement by the author) 134
Figure 2.46 Chichn Itz, Structure 6E-1, North Column (Rollout Design)
(drawing by Linda Schele [Schele and Freidel 1990: Fig. 9:13]) 135
Figure 2.47 Ballcourt Glyphs at Chichn Itz (drawings by Ruth Krochock) 138
Figure 2.48 Chichn Itz, Great Ballcourt, South Building, End Panels
(drawing by Linda Schele [Schele and Mathews 1998: Fig. 6.42]) 138
Figure 2.49 Chichn Itz, Great Ballcourt, South Building, Pillar 5
(drawing by Linda Schele [Schele and Mathews 1998: Fig. 6.43]) 139
Figure 2.50 Chichn Itz, Akab Dzib Building, Lintel (drawing by Alexander Vo) 141
Figure 2.51 Mayapn, Stela 1 (drawing by Linda Schele) 157

Chapter 3
Figure 3.1 Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, MS 99: Katun 4 Ahaw Text
(in Gordon 1913) 199
Figure 3.2 The Arrival of Siyah Kak: a) Uaxactn, Stela 5 (drawing by David Stuart),
b) Uaxactn, Stela 22 (drawings by Ian Graham and Simon Martin) 226
Figure 3.3 Uaxactn, Stela 5: Front (drawing by Ian Graham [1986: 145]) 226
Figure 3.4 Tikal, Group 6C-XVI: Building and Monument (drawings in Schele 1990) 227
Figure 3.5 Tikal Marcador Text Panels: Panel 1 (drawing by Stephen Houston), Panel 2
(drawing by Linda Schele) 227
Figure 3.6 Glyphic Passages from Tikal Stela 31, MT 3, and Other Objects
(drawings by various artists) 230
Figure 3.7 Tikal, Stela 4: a) Front and b) Back (drawings by John Montgomery) 232
Figure 3.8 Tikal Stela 31: a) Left Side Figure and b) Right Side Figure
(drawings by John Montgomery) 233
Figure 3.9 Tikal Stela 31: a) Passage E5-E14, b) Passage H24-H28
(drawings by John Montgomery) 234
Figure 3.10 Carved Vase with Teotihuacan Procession from Problematic Deposit 50
(drawing by John Klausmeyer) 237

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Contents xiii

Figure 3.11 Codex Bodley: Lord Jaguar provides Lord 8 Deer with Nose Ornament
(drawing in Jansen 1996) 238
Figure 3.12 Uaxactn, Stela 12 (drawing by Linda Schele) 242
Figure 3.13 Teotihuacan, Temple of the Feathered Serpent
(drawing in Lpez Austin, Lpez Lujn, and Sugiyama 1991) 245
Figure 3.14 Codex Azcattlan: Huitzilipochtli and Descending Xiuhcoatl
(drawing by Karl Taube [in Miller and Taube 1997: 95]) 246
Figure 3.15 Plan of the Castillo at Chichn Itz (drawing in Landa 1566) 247
Figure 3.16 Plan and Elevation of the Castillo (in Marquina 1951) 248
Figure 3.17 The Descending Light-and-Shadow Serpent at the Castillo (in Rivard 1970) 248
Figure 3.18 Naranjo, Stela 21: Front (drawing by Ian Graham
[in Graham and Von Euw 1975: 53]) 250
Figure 3.19 Tikal, Temple IV, Lintel 2: Iconography (drawing by John Montgomery) 250
Figure 3.20 Examples of (U)huk Chapat Tzikin Kinich Ahaw: a) Bonampak,
b) Palenque, c) Yaxchiln, d) Copn, e) Yaxchiln, f ) Copn
(drawings by various artists) 252
Figure 3.21 Examples of the 15th Day Men (in Thompson 1950) 253
Figure 3.22 Composite Creatures: Kerr No. 0533 (photograph by Justin Kerr) and
Kerr No. 8608 (photography by Justin Kerr, digitally edited by the author) 255
Figure 3.23 Great Ballcourt, North Building, North Vault: Nose Piercing in Yucatn
(drawing by Linna Wren [1989: Fig. 11]) 260
Figure 3.24 Great Ballcourt, Upper Temple of the Jaguar, Lintel: Iconography
(drawing by Linda Schele [Schele and Mathews 1998: Fig. 6.29]) 261
Figure 3.25 Flores, Stela 1: Figure of the Descending God (drawing by Nikolai Grube) 264
Figure 3.26 Examples of Late Teotihuacan Iconography: Prowling Jaguars and Coyotes
(drawings in Lombardo de Ruiz 1996) 268
Figure 3.27 Prowling Jaguars at Chichn Itz:
a) Sub-Castillo, Faade (drawing in Marquina 1951),
b) Upper Temple of the Jaguar, Faade (drawing in Marquina 1951),
c) Panel from Temple of the Jaguars and the Eagles (drawing in Andrews 1995) 269

Chapter 4
Figure 4.1 Catherwoods Drawing of the Akab Dzib Lintel
(Stephens 1963 [1843]: Plate XXVIII) 286
Figure 4.2 Catherwoods Drawing of the Casa Colorada Hieroglyphic Frieze
(Stephens 1963 [1843]: Plate XXXIII) 287
Figure 4.3 The First 8 Figures of Beyers 1937 Most Common Group of Signs
(Beyer 1937: Figs. 1-8) 288
Figure 4.4 A Selection of Recently Deciphered Collocations: a) haax, b) Hunpik Tok,
c) Kuhul Kokom, d) yitah, e) tsil, f ) y-al , g) ya-na-BAT.HEAD, h) u-mim,
i) u-mam, j) sabak, k) yabnal(?), l) ah habnal (drawings by various artists) 289
Figure 4.5 Collocations to Identify Gods at Chichn Itz: a) u-kaba kuh, b) u-kuh-il,
c) kanal kuh, d) u-holkuh-il, e) u-nuk(ul) holkuh , f ) u-nuk(ul) holkuh
(drawings by the author) 293
Figure 4.6 Collocations Identied as Deictics (drawings by Jos Miguel Campillo) 294

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xiv Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Figure 4.7 The Title Kuhul A(h) Chel Wah (drawings a) and c) by Ian Graham,
b) Ruth Krochock) 300
Figure 4.8 The Nominal Phrase Kakupakal (a-c) versus Non-Kakupakal (d-f )
(drawings by various artists) 302
Figure 4.9 Casa Colorada, Hieroglyphic Frieze (drawing by Alexander Vo) 304
Figure 4.10 Halakal, Lintel: Underside and Front (drawings by Alexander Vo) 307
Figure 4.11 Akab Dzib Lintel (drawing by Alexander Vo) 309
Figure 4.12 Kinich Hunpik Tok at Ek Balam (a) and Chichn Itz (b, c)
(drawings by various artists) 312
Figure 4.13 Yul, Lintel 1 (drawing by Ruth Krochock) 314
Figure 4.14 Yul, Lintel 2 (drawing by Ruth Krochock) 315
Figure 4.15 Substitution Pattern for CHIT at Various Sites (drawings by various artists) 319
Figure 4.16 Temple of the Initial Series Lintel (drawing by Ruth Krochock [1989: Fig. 1]) 321
Figure 4.17 Temple of the Three Lintels (drawing by Ruth Krochock [1989: Fig. 3]) 322
Figure 4.18 Temple of the One Lintel (drawing by Ruth Krochock [1989: Fig. 2]) 323
Figure 4.19 Las Monjas, Lintel 1 (drawing by Ian Graham [in Bolles 1977: 268]) 324
Figure 4.20 Las Monjas, Lintel 2 (drawing by Ian Graham [in Bolles 1977: 269]) 326
Figure 4.21 Las Monjas, Lintel 3 (drawing by Ian Graham [in Bolles 1977: 270]) 327
Figure 4.22 Las Monjas, Lintel 4 (drawing by Ian Graham [in Bolles 1977: 271]) 328
Figure 4.23 Tonin Monument 34a and Kaknal Ahaw at Uxmal (drawings by the author) 330
Figure 4.24 Las Monjas, Lintel 5 (drawing by Ian Graham [in Bolles 1977: 272]) 331
Figure 4.25 Las Monjas, Lintel 6 (drawing by Ian Graham [in Bolles 1977: 273]) 332
Figure 4.26 Las Monjas, Lintel 7 (drawing by Ian Graham [in Bolles 1977: 274]) 333
Figure 4.27 Temple of the Four Lintels, Lintel 1 (drawing by Ruth Krochock [1989: Fig. 4]) 336
Figure 4.28 Temple of the Four Lintels, Lintel 3 (drawing by Ruth Krochock [1989: Fig. 6]) 338
Figure 4.29 Temple of the Four Lintels, Lintel 4 (drawing by Ruth Krochock [1989: Fig. 7]) 339
Figure 4.30 Temple of the Four Lintels, Lintel 2 (drawing by Ruth Krochock [1989: Fig. 5]) 341
Figure 4.31 Caracol, Stela (Front) (drawing by Alexander Vo) 345
Figure 4.32 Caracol, Stela (Side Texts) (drawings by Alexander Vo) 346
Figure 4.33 Creation Texts in Classic Inscriptions: a) Quirigu, b) Cob, c) Palenque,
d) Palenque (drawings by various artists) 347
Figure 4.34 Caracol, Hieroglyphic Bands: a) Fragment 9, b) Fragment 16,
c) Fragment 17, d) Fragment 12 (drawings by the author) 348
Figure 4.35 Stela 2 (drawing by Daniel Graa-Behrens) 349
Figure 4.36 Partial Ruler Genealogy of Chichn Itz (composition by the author) 362

Chapter 5
Figure 5.1 Schele and Freidels Proposed Kinship Relationships at Chichn Itz
(composition by Linda Schele [after Schele and Freidel 1990: Fig. 9:14]) 379
Figure 5.2 Glyphic Variants of the Title ahaw (digitally cleaned by the author)
(in Schele and Freidel 1990: Fig. 1:4) 382
Figure 5.3 Examples of Classic Maya Emblem Glyphs (in Martin and Grube 2000: 19) 383
Figure 5.4 Glyphic Phrases Relative to Accession (drawings by various artists) 384
Figure 5.5 Accession to Kalomte-ship and Sahal-ship (drawings by various artists) 385

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Contents xv

Figure 5.6 Dumbarton Oaks Pectoral, Back (drawing by Linda Schele


[Schele and Miller 1986: Plate 32a-b]) 390
Figure 5.7 Palenque, Oval Palace Tablet Conguration with Bench
(drawing by Merle Greene Robertson [1985: 92]) 391
Figure 5.8 Palenque, Palace Tablet (Central Scene)
(drawing by Linda Schele [Schele and Miller 1986: Figure II.7]) 392
Figure 5.9 Bonampak, Sculptured Stone 1 (drawing by Linda Schele
[Schele and Miller 1986: Figure II.8]) 393
Figure 5.10 Piedras Negras, Stela 11: Front and Sides (drawing by John Monmtgomery) 394
Figure 5.11 Copn, Temple 11: Sculptured Bench Panel (drawing by Linda Schele) 395
Figure 5.12 Copn, Altar Q (drawing by Linda Schele) 396
Figure 5.13 Copn, Altar L (drawing by Barbara Fash) 397
Figure 5.14 Examples of Scaolds as Seats (drawings by the author) 398
Figure 5.15 Seats with Jaguar Pelt Coverings, po Signs, and/or Weaving Patterns
(drawings by the author) 398
Figure 5.16 Examples of Monolithic Seats (drawings by the author) 399
Figure 5.17 Examples of Benches with Supports (drawings by the author) 399
Figure 5.18 Examples of Benches Covered with Mats (drawings by the author) 400
Figure 5.19 Jaina Seat with Sun as Back Support (in Coe 1973) 400
Figure 5.20 Evolution of the Facial Mask at Machaquil, Seibal, and Chichn Itz
(drawings and arrangement by the author) 403
Figure 5.21 Temple of the Chac Mool: North and South Bench Row of Figures
(drawings by Linda Schele [Schele and Freidel 1990: Fig. 9:19]) 405
Figure 5.22 Great Ballcourt, Upper Temple of the Jaguar, Table Top Seat:
a) Conguration, b) Examples of Individual Supports
(drawings by Linda Schele [Schele and Mathews 1998: Figs. 6.38 & 6.39]) 406
Figure 5.23 Olmec Seats Supported by Dwarfs: a) Potrero Nuevo, Monument 2,
b) San Lorenzo, Monument 18 (drawings by Felipe Dvalos G.
[Coe and Diehl 1980: Figs. 446 & 496]) 406
Figure 5.24 Sub-Castillo, Chac Mool and Jaguar Statuette Arrangement
(in Marquina 1951: Fot. 422 & 423) 407
Figure 5.25 Mat and Throne in Central Mexico: Acamapichtli,
as drawn in the Manuscrito Tovar (drawing by the author) 408
Figure 5.26 Great Ballcourt, Lower Temple of the Jaguar, Mural
(in Kubler 1990 [1962]: Fig. 255) 409
Figure 5.27 Great Ballcourt, Lower Temple of the Jaguar, Details (drawings by Linda Schele) 410
Figure 5.28 Great Ballcourt, North Building, North Wall Mural
(drawing by Linna Wren [Wren and Schmidt 1991: Fig. 9.9]) 412
Figure 5.29 Structure 3E-5/3E-6: Prowling Jaguars with Maya Glyphs
(drawings by the author) 418

Appendix B
Figure B1: Examples of the Sequence Kuhul Chata/Chatan Winik:
a) Kerr No. 2723: KUH cha-TAN-na wi-WINIK-ki;
b) Kerr No. 1335: KUH cha-ta-wi-WINIK-ki (drawings by the author) 505

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xvi Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Figure B2: Examples of Emblem Glyphs that End in mak or winik:


a) Caracol Emblem Glyph: KUH KAN-na-tu ma-ki;
b) Emblem Glyph at Naj Tunich, Drawing 29: KUH i-bi-li WINIK;
c) Emblem Glyph on Kerr No. 4372/4732: KUH i[bi]-li a-ha-wa
(drawings by the author) 507
Figure B3: Kerr No. 1230: Caption naming way-character chakba(h) akan u-way kuhul
chatan winik (CHAK-ba AKAN?-na u-WAY-ya KUH cha-TAN WINIK)
(drawing by the author) 508
Figure B4: Ceramic Sherds at Nakb:
a) Nakb Codex Style Sherd with Rim Text Surviving: TAN-na;
b) Nakb Codex Style Sherd with Rim Text Surviving: wi-WINIK-ki
(drawings by the author) 508
Figure B5: The Epithet Kuhul Chata(n) Winik in Monumental Inscriptions:
a) Calakmul Stela 43: (kuhul) chatan (winik) (KUH cha-TAN WINIK);
b) Calakmul Stela 51: kuhul chatan winik (KUH cha-TAN-na WINIK)
(drawings by the author) 509
Figure B6: Chata(n) and Chata(n) Winik at Copn and Tikal:
a) Copn Peccary Skull, Detail: ti? cha-TAN (for ti chatan at/in chatan?);
b) Tikal, Structure 5D-141 Stucco Panel Text: cha-TAN-na wi-WINIK and
KAWIL-la cha-TAN-na (drawings by the author) 509
Figure B7: The Title Masul Ahaw:
a) COL Ear Flare: KUH cha-TAN WINIK ma-su AHAW collocations;
b) COL Early Classic Vessel: KUH cha-TAN WINIK ma-su-la AHAW-wa
collocations (drawings by Linda Schele and Nikolai Grube) 510
Figure B8: Masul Ahaw in Monumental Inscriptions:
a) Calakmul, Fragment from Structure 4: ma-su-la AHAW-wa collocation;
b) Tikal, Stela 10: ma-su-la AHAW collocation (drawings by the author) 510
Figure B9: Codex Style Ceramic from the Codex Group (Op. 103A) at Nakb.
The primary rim text refers to a certain Itzat(?) Pitzil Yopat Balam
(ITZAT?-ti pi-tzi-la YOP?-AT-ti BALAM-ma) as Kuhul Chatan Winik
(KUH cha-TAN WINIK) (drawing by F. Lpez) 512

List of Tables
Table 2.1 Chronological Placements of Katun Ahaw Dates between A.D. 514-1796
(based on the 584,285 correlation constant) 192
Table 2.2 Long Counts, Katun Ahaw Dates, and Christian Years between A.D. 435-1993
(based on the 584,285 correlation constant) 193
Table 3.1 Time Lines of the Four Principal Individuals at Tikal (ca. A.D. 360-439) 282
Table 3.2 Historical Figures as Quetzalcoatl 283
Table 4.1 Monuments and Objects with Hieroglyphic Texts at Chichn Itz 370
Table 4.2 The Colocations yi-ta-hi and Related Compounds 371
Table 4.3 A History of the Decipherment of the yi-ta-hi Collocation 371
Table 4.4 Overview of Epigraphic Dates at Chichn Itz 372
Table 4.5 Nominal Phrases and Identity at Chichn Itz: Past and Present 373

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Contents xvii

Table 4.6 Temporal Distribution of Five Nominal Phrases


between A.D. 869-890 at Chichn Itz 374
Table 4.7 Overview of Dated Inscriptions (Reconstructed Long Counts only)
and Associated Primary Event(s) 375
Table 5.1 Classic Maya Titles of Social Position and Occupation, Diagnostic Markers of
Superiority in Rank, and Possessed Forms Indicative of Hierarchy 449
Table 5.2 Provisional Listing of First-Last Dated References to Accession at
Ten Classic Maya Sites 450
Table 5.3 A Tentative Identication of Levels of Political Organization at Chichn Itz,
A.D. 869-890 451
Table B.1 cha-TAN(-na)/cha-ta Collocations in Maya Hieroglyphic Texts 514

List of Maps
Map 1.1 Central Area of Chichn Itz (in G. Stuart 1989: Fig. 2) 13
Map 1.2 Northern Yucatn with Major Sites Indicated (by the author) 14
Map 1.3 The Maya Area with Major Sites Indicated
(in Eggebrecht and Eggebrecht 1992: Abb. 33) 16
Map 1.4 Mesoamerica with Major Sites Indicated (by the author) 17
Map 2.1 Maya Area: Provisional Border Between the Southern and Northern Maya
Lowlands (by the author, based on Eggebrecht and Eggebrecht 1992: Abb. 33) 35
Map 2.2 Geographical Distribution of itza and chanek/kanek (by the author,
based on Eggebrecht and Eggebrecht 1992: Abb. 33) 47
Map 2.3 The Itz Territories prior to the Conquest of 1697
(by the author, based on Grant 1992: Fig. 2) 48
Map 2.4 The Location of Bolonte Witz/Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, with major salt
trade routes of the late 19th and 20th century (in Andrews 1983: Fig. 4.12) 102
Map 2.5 The Area of Tayasal-Paxcaman (in Chase 1990: Map 7.1) 164
Map 5.1 Central Area of Chichn Itz (in Pollock 1965: Fig. 44) 433

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TOC-promotie.indd 18 20-12-2004 13:38:27
Preface

This study is about Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico, one of the largest archaeological zones in the North-
ern Maya Lowlands. As some more general studies on Maya history suggest, on some occasion the history
of this site lled a gap in the overall history of the Maya. For instance, at Chichn Itz in the Northern
Maya Lowlands the last vestiges of the Maya could be witnesses, conquered by Mexicans, referred to as
Toltecs, after having reached their splendor earlier in the Southern Maya Lowlands.

Chichn Itz is generally dated to the Early Postclassic period, a period after the apogee of the great cen-
ters of the central Petn region. Colonial sources write that the Itz were those who founded the city of
Chichn Itz, but, although Chichn Itz was a large site, the Itz themselves always have been assigned a
role somewhere in the margins of Maya history. Itz Maya, however, defended the last independent Maya
capital at the island of Nohpetn in March of 1697. On March 13, 1697, this island capital fell into the
hands of the Spanish conquistadores. At present only a few Itz still speak their native language.

Many questions have been raised on the identity of the Itz and their association with the city of Chichn
Itz, as well as on the identity of the Itz at Nohpetn and the claim of their king named Kanek that they
descended from the rulers of Chichn Itz. But who where these Itz, from where did they originate, and
what was their place in history? At one time none of the existing hypotheses could be backed by any solid
epigraphic or archaeological evidence, as before the end of the Late Classic period there apparently were
no references in any inscription to the Itz.

This all changed in 1994 and 1995, when hieroglyphic collocations were deciphered that spelled Itz
Ahaw King of Itz (Early Classic) and Kuhul Itz Ahaw God-like King of Itz (Late Classic) as well
as collocations that contained the name Chanek or Kanek Serpent Star. These discoveries and deci-
pherments, as well as several others, changed the perspective on the origin and identity of the Itz. This
study, this dissertation, is the fruit of my research of the past ten years. In four chapters I will describe
my research ndings on the origin and identity of the Itz, the arrival of Kukulkn Feathered Serpent,
the distinction between gods and human beings in the inscriptions at Chichn Itz, and the model of
political organization at Chichn Itz.

In 1990, two years after receiving my MA degree in anthropology from Leiden University, I decided to
dedicate my studies to Maya epigraphy in general and Chichn Itz and Yucatn in particular. In 1992
I joined the Chichn Itz group at the Texas Maya Meetings as organized at the University of Texas in
Austin, whose many members have been inspiritional in my subsequent studies.

During the dierent stages of writing and completing this work I had conversations and exchanges of
ideas through letters or e-mails with many individuals who either in a small or a large way contributed to
the nal version of this work. It is impossible to thank everybody, sure as I am that I have forgotten those
who deserve to be mentioned. It is unintentional.

In Holland and Europe I would like to thank Dmitri Beliaev, Edwin Braakhuis, Albert Davletshin, Mi-
chel Davoust, Jos Miguel Garca Campillo, Edward de Bock, Jeroen de Bruin, Bob Duinmeijer, Markus
Eberl, Daniel Graa-Behrens, John Hagen, Christophe Helmke, Maarten Kersten, Harri Kettunen, Lars
Kirkhusmo Pharo, Alfonso Lacadena, Genevive Le Fort, Ted Leyenaar, Lus Lopes, Simon Martin,

preface-promotie.indd 1 20-12-2004 13:42:03


2 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Jan Matze, Jesper Nielsen, Cees Nieuwland, Christian Prager, Frauke Sachse, Alexandre Safronov, John
Steenkamp, Alexandre Tokovinine, Hans van den Bent, Lydia Van de Fliert, Ron Van Meer, Rudolf Van
Zantwijk, Alexander Vo, Elisabeth Wagner, and Sren Wichmann. I especially thank Ruud van Akkeren
for our in-depth discussions on the migrations of the Itz and Kiche people and Michel Oudijk for our
discussion on the toma de posesin. I thank Rick Slager for his help in solving software problems during
the nal preparation of this text. I also thank Leneke Mechelse, former librarian, and David Stuart-Fox,
presently head librarian at the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, the Netherlands. Without their
enthousiasm and help many a reference that I was looking for and which now is cited in this study would
have remained hidden or unavailable.

In Mexico I would like to thank Gregorio Tuyub May and Calixto Chi Poot who introduced me to
present-day Maya culture in the small town of Tixkokob and the village of Homn and who assisted me
during my research and anthropological eldwork in the period 1986-1988. Through their generosity
in kindness and knowledge I lost my heart to the Maya area forever. My rst visit to Mexico and the
Maya area was made possible through a grant provided by the Mexican government as part of a student
exchange program between Mexico and the Netherlands (November 1985 - September 1986). I also
want to thank archaeologist and ceramicist Eduardo Prez de Heredia and archaeologist and proyect
director Dr. Peter Schmidt who, during a three-day visit to the archaeological zone of Chichn Itz in
March 2001, made it possible to inspect some buildings normally closed for public access and who both
informed me on their most recent advances in research.

In the United States, Canada, and Australia I would like to thank Ed Barnhart, Philippe Bzy, Carl
Callaway, Michael Carrasco, John Chuchiak IV, Lynn Foster, Charles Fox, Stanley Guenter, Bill Har-
rison, Nicholas Hopkins, Stephen Houston, Kerry Hull, Carolyn and Tom Jones, Grant D. Jones, Kath-
ryn Josserand, John Justeson, Terry Kaufman, Peter Keeler, Rex Koontz, Ruth Krochock, Justin Kerr,
Matthew Looper, Bruce Love, Mike McBride, Barbara MacLeod, Peter Mathews, John Montgomery,
Marjorie Perry, John Pohl, James Porter, Dorie Reents-Budet, Joel Skidmore, Brian Stross, Mark Van
Stone, Robert Wald, Walter Wakeeld, Lorainne Williams-Beck, Linna Wren, and Marc Zender. I thank
Michael Hironymus, Rare Book Collection sta, The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection,
University of Texas, Austin, for his help in nding two rare publications on Chichn Itz. I also thank
Pam Fletcher and Phil Friday who during many years opened (and still open) their house(s) to me and
fellow Mayanists so we could (and can) attend the yearly Texas Maya Meetings.

Especially I thank Linda Schele who has been an incredible inspiration since I rst met her in 1984. Her
candid and sharp remarks after venting yet another wild idea (which I always accompanied with if I run
too fast, slow me down; if I y too high, just pull me down) led to many instances of further and more
in-depth research, resulting in most of the basic contents of the chapters that constitute the present study.
She is duly missed after her untimely death in 1998.

For the year 2000-2001 I received a writing scholarship at the Research School CNWS, Leiden Uni-
versity. Without that year dedicated to writing, the present dissertation would not yet have existed. The
rules of Leiden University do not allow me to thank the scholars who have been member of the reading
committee of this dissertation, the core members of which supported the writing scholarship. I hope to
express my appreciation to them at another occasion. During the years 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 I also
presented courses in Maya Epigraphy and Iconography for beginners and advanced students at Leiden

preface-promotie.indd 2 20-12-2004 13:42:03


Preface 3

University. Teaching those classes has reshaped my thinking on Maya epigraphic studies in more than one
way. A special thanks to Isabel, Jan, Joost, and Renske for being inquisitive.

Last but not least I would like to thank my parents, Henk Boot and Emmy Boot-Prins, without whose
moral support, and nancial support at critical moments, these many years I could not have conducted
my research nor have written this dissertation. It is to them that this study is dedicated.

A Note on Orthography

In this study many Classic Maya monumental inscriptions and texts on ceramics are transcribed, trans-
literated, and translated. In regard to the transcriptions and transliterations of Classic Maya as well as in
regard to a wide variety of primary sources that are cited the following specic orthographies need to be
distinguished.

Epigraphic Sources
In this study the following orthography to represent Classic Maya morphemes or sounds derived from
epigraphic spellings will be applied: , a, b, e, h, i, k, k, l, m, n, o, p, p, s, t, t, tz, tz, u, w, x, and y. In this
orthography I do not make a distinction between a glottal or a velar aspirate or voiced fricative (compare
to Grube n.d.), both are indicated by /h/. The Classic Maya consonant and vowel system may be repre-
sented as follows:

Consonants
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glotal
Stops
voiceless p t k
glottalized p t k
voiced b
Aricates
voiceless tz ch
glottalized tz ch
Fricatives
voiceless s x
voiced h
Liquids l
Vibrants
Nasals m n
Semivowels w y

Vowels
Front Central Back
(unrounded) (rounded) (rounded)
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

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4 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

It is now customary in Maya epigraphic studies (cf. G. Stuart 1988) to use, in the transcription of Classic
Maya collocations, uppercase bold type face letters for logograms or logographic signs (e.g. EK) and
lowercase bold type face letters for syllables or syllabic signs (e.g. ba). Occasional added queries to any
given value express a certain degree of doubt on part of the author and/or other epigraphers on the cor-
rectness of the assigned value (e.g. AKAN?). Hyphens are employed in transcription to distinguish the
separate hieroglyphic signs and their established logographic or syllabic values (e.g. BAH-ka-ba). In
these transcriptions, values placed between square brackets indicate inxed signs (e.g. [i]tza-a, i inxed
into tza; tza[pa]-ha, pa inxed into tza). Certain logograms or logographic signs are represented by up-
percase normal type face letters in the English language, as these signs may have closely related but dier-
ent values based on specic patterns of phonetic complementation (e.g. ya-HOUSE-ti, yo-HOUSE-ti,
to lead respectively to y-atot and y-otot; or SERPENT, ka-SERPENT, cha-SERPENT, cha-SERPENT-
nu, ka-SERPENT-nu, SERPENT-na, SERPENT-nu, SERPENT-ma? [Kerr No. 7794], which all lead
to items as kan, chan, and cham meaning serpent). In the detailed analyses of hieroglyphic texts in this
study the coordinates of the collocations written on the monument are presented, following established
reading order (in most cases indicated in the drawings); alphabetic letters refer to vertical columns, while
Arabic numerals refer to horizontal lines. Combinations of these are placed, for clarity, between square
brackets (e.g. [A1-B1]). A hyphen separates the individual coordinates of subsequent glyph blocks. In
some cases only Arabic numerals refer to the hieroglyphic collocations (e.g. the Las Monjas lintels at Chi-
chn Itz); also these are placed between square brackets (e.g. [1-2]). In some cases a glyph block contains
two collocations, each with a separate transcription leading to (a) separate item(s); in those cases the let-
ters a (left or top part) and b (right or bottom part) pertain to the part of the glyph block in question
(e.g. [17a]). A standard Classic Maya text is read in double columns, from left to right and from top to
bottom (as such one makes a zigzag movement through a text, A1-B1 A2-B2 A3-B3 etc.), but there are
also single column, linear, and L-shaped texts. Transliterations based on the transcriptions are placed in
italics (e.g. chanek/kanek); abbreviated sounds are placed between normal brackets (e.g. bah vs. ba(h)).
In the analyses of the hieroglyphic texts, on occasion the abbreviations CVC, CVCVC, and CV are used.
These abbreviations describe the basic construct of Maya lexical items in which C refers to consonant
and V to vowel. So-called T-numbers (e.g. T115) refer to the Maya hieroglyphic axes and main signs
as numerated and cataloged by Thompson (1962); the added abbreviation var indicates a variant or a
set of variants of a particular sign (e.g. T759var). All transliterations in this study are only approxima-
tions of the intended Classic (or epigraphic) Maya lexical items, not true linguistic representations
(cf. Boot 2002a: 6-7).

In this study I do not employ complex vowels (-V- vs. -V-, -VV-, -V[V]-, and/or -V[V]h-). In 1998 a
proposal was published in which it was suggested that specic so-called disharmonic spelling presented
clues to the quality and complexity of the internal vowel of CVC and CVCVC lexical items (cf. Houston,
Stuart, and Robertson 1998). Subsequent research by other epigraphers and linguistists (cf. Lacadena
and Wichmann 1999, n.d.) provided partial conrmation of as well as amendments to the original
proposal (also summarized in Kettunen and Helmke 2002 & 2003: Appendix J). Several other propos-
als have been made in recent years, while most recently a counter proposal suggests that disharmonic
spellings (excluding verbs) do not provide information on the quality of the internal vowel of CVC and
CVCVC constructs, but may be a reex or reection of the most common -Vl sux (proposal by Terry
Kaufman and John Justeson, summarized and communicated via e-mail by Barbara MacLeod, Septem-
ber 20, 2003; cf. Kaufman 2003: 29-34, as -V:l). Recent research by the present author suggests that
these disharmonic spellings in many cases provide a reex of an -Vl sux in regard to several classes of

preface-promotie.indd 4 20-12-2004 13:42:04


Preface 5

possessed nouns and/or derived adjectives (e.g. attributive, qualitative) as well as other common non-Vl
suxes (possibly -Vj suxes). During the writing of this study in some cases I applied parts of this new
proposal, being familiar with some detail of this counter proposal since 2002 and 2003 (XXVIth TMM,
Austin, March 2002 & XXVIIth TMM, Austin, March 2003) and having researched dierent -Vl suxes
in dierent Maya languages myself.

Colonial Spanish Sources


In this study an orthography is followed in which the colonial Spanish as employed in hand written and
printed sources is represented as closely as possible. This means that for instance stress or accent is rarely
indicated, that sometimes punctuation is absent or incorrectly applied, and that the elongated s or /f/
(as used here) for the intermediate /s/ is employed in those cases where it originally was written. Unfor-
tunately this sometimes leads to awkward looking transcriptions of hand written and printed texts, such
as in eftera to refer to estera. Also note the use of /v/ to represent /u/ (as in vso and costvmbre),
/u/ to represent /b/ (as in sauio and auian), or /x/ to represent /j/ (e.g. dixo). Most abbreviations
as employed both in handwritten and printed texts have been retained (e.g. q~ for que, c for con,
srr for seores).

Colonial Yucatec and Highland Maya Sources


Early on, Spanish scribes devised an orthography, based on the Spanish alphabet, to represent the pho-
nemes or sounds of colonial Yucatec Maya. This orthography was also employed by indigenous Maya
scribes raised within the Spanish colonial educational and religious system. As the Spanish scribes ad-
ditionally invented a sign at present not avialable on a standard keyboard (backward c), this is the
orthography (in large part adapted from Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980) employed to represent the colonial
Yucatec Maya sources:

colonial present (this study when transcribing into the new orthography)

a, aa a, aa
b b
c k
s (although in some case it represents the sound /tz/, as inia for itza)
dz (backward c) tz
e, ee e, ee
h h
i i
j i (/j/ was employed to indicate long vowel /ii/, e.g. tij for tii)
k k
l l
m m
n n
o, oo o, oo
p p
pp (p herida) p
s s
t t

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6 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

th t
tz tz
u u
v u, w (/v/ was employed to represent the vowel /u/ as in
vso as well as to indicate /w/, e.g. uvaah, vvaah
for u-waah his bread)
x x
y y

To represent phonemes or sounds specic to the Highland Maya languages of Kaqchikel and Kiche the
Spanish friar Francisco de la Parra developed a series of symbols (based on numerals), currently not avail-
able on any modern keyboard (the numerals as used were written in a backward fashion). These are the
symbols employed in this study:

Parra present (orthographic parallel items as used in this study)

3 (tresillo) q
4 (cuatrillo) k
4, ( ,, ,, ) tz
4h ( ,, ,, ) ch

As can be seen in Chapter 3, contemporary Highland scribes (both native and Spanish) did not employ
these signs as rigorous as one would expect (e.g. 4umatz instead of 3umatz).

Citing Older Spellings


To distinguish obsolete or old(er) spellings (e.g. from colonial sources or older epigraphic studies) from
modern spellings in the main text or the end notes of this study I employ double pointed or angled brack-
ets to enclose those obsolete or old(er) spellings, e.g. canek in the letters from Hernn Corts [1524-25]
instead of Kanek, kakupacal in the study of Kelley [1962, 1968] instead of Kakupakal.

A Note on Personal Communication

All specialized elds of study, the study of Maya epigraphy included, sometimes move very fast. Opinions
and observations expressed in personal communication in certain cases do not even make it into print.
As such personal communication becomes an important source of information. Personal communication
through either letters or e-mails on which an observation in this study is based is marked by a name and
date of the letter or e-mail. Personal communication at conferences on which an observation in this study
is based is marked by a reference to a name and the occasion through abbreviations (Roman numerals
with TMM refer to the yearly Texas Maya Meetings at Austin, Texas; Arabic numerals with EMC refer to
the yearly European Maya Conference, each year at a dierent venue).

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Chapter 1

Introduction to the Study of Chichn Itz

1.0 Introduction

The beginning of the study on Chichn Itz dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Three
important works from that period have shaped the way how researchers in general look upon Chichn
Itz and its place in the overall history of the Maya area, specically in regard to the origin of its inhabit-
ants and the style of its architecture and iconography.

The summary manuscript of the work of fray Diego de Landa, originally written in circa 1566 (note
1), contains several passages on the history of Chichn Itz, which, since its rst publication in 1864 by
Brasseur de Bourbourg, have been of great importance in research of this site. The manuscript not only
contains a description of some of the ruins (cf. Landa 1566: fol. 48v-49r, Landa 1986: 112-114, Tozzer
1941: 177-184) (note 2), but also these two passages, providing dierent descriptions of a single event:

Que Chicheniza es un assiento muy bueno x leguas de Izamal, y xi de Valladolid donde dizen que reynaron
tres ssr hermanos que vinieron a aquella tierra de la parte de poniente las quales eran muy religiosos, y que assi
edicaron muy lindos templos, y que vinieron sin mugeres muy honestamente, y que el uno de estos se murio,
o se fue por lo qual los otros se hizieron parciales y deshonestos, y que por esto los mataron. [...]

Que es opinion entre los Indios que con los Izaes que poblaron Chicheniza, reyno un gran seor llamado Cuc-
ulcan, y que muestra ser esto verdad el edicio principal que se llama Cuculcan y dizen que entro por la parte
de poniente, y dieren en si entro antes o despues de los Izaes o con ellos, y dizen que fue bien dispuesto, y que
no tenia mujer ni hijos, y que despues de su vuelta fue tenido en Mexico por uno de sus dioses, y llamado Cezal-
couati, y que en Yucatan tambien lo tuvieron por dios por ser gran republicano, y que esto se vio en el assiento
que puso en Yucatan despues de la muerte de los seores para mitigar la dissension que sus muertes causaron en
la tierra (Landa 1566: fol. 5r, lines 1-7 & lines 14-23; cf. Landa 1986: 12-13, Tozzer 1941: 19, 20-23)

These two passages provide important information on the type of government, the origin and ethnic
identity of its inhabitants. The inhabitants of Chichn Itz are identied as the Itz (Izaes) and these
Itz were either ruled by three brothers (ssr hermanos) and/or a great man named Kukulkn (Cuc-
ulcan). This Kukulkn came from the west, either before, after or with the Itz, and eventually returned
to Mexico where he was known as Quetzalcoatl (Cezalcouati). Generally it is from this passage that it
has been surmised that the Itz themselves were not natives of the region (Yucatn) in which the large
urban center of Chichn Itz is located.

The rst time that the passage on Kukulkn-Quetzalcoatl was truly applied, was in the work of Desir
Charnay, a Frenchmen who traveled through Mexico and Guatemala between 1853 and 1882 (cf. Bernal
1980: 126-127). Only months after visiting the Mexican highland site of Tula, Hidalgo, in 1882 he
visited the ruins of Chichn Itz. With his intimate knowledge of important historical accounts from
the Colonial period in central Mexico (among those the works of Sahagn, Torquemada, Durn, Veytia,
Clavigero, and Ixtlilxchitl) and Yucatn (besides the work of Landa also Cogolludo, Lizana, Herrera, as

chapter-1.indd 7 20-12-2004 13:11:55


8 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

well as Anconas 1878 Historia de Yucatn) and the ruins of Tula fresh in his mind, he wrote the fol-
lowing about Chichn Itz:

Revenons notre demeure, improprement appele le Castillo et qui tait un temple; cest, avec le jeu de
paume, le monument le plus intressant de Chichen-Itza. [...] Cest l, dans ce temple, que nous trouvmes
les premires et plus clatantes analogies entre les sculptures et les bas-reliefs toltques des haut plateaux et les
bas-reliefs de la cit yucatque. [...]
La balustrade du grand escalier est forme, nous lavons dit, par le corps dun serpent emplum, image de
ceux qui ornaient la muraille de la cour du temple Mexico. Ce serpent emplum tait limage symbolique de
Quetzalcoatl, dieu toltque et dieu aztque, comme il tait au Yucatan limage de Cuculcan, dieu maya, les deux
noms ayant dans les deux langues la mme signication de serpent emplum. [...] Ici mme, les deux colonnes
du temple qui se voient dans la faade vont nous fournir une ressemblance peut-tre encore plus clatante. Ces
colonnes, dont les bases reprsentaient deux ttes de serpent et dont les fts sont orns de plumes, nous disent,
ainsi que la balustrade de lescalier, que le temple tait consacr Cuculcan; eh bien, ces fts de colonne sont
la copie peu prs exacte dune colonne toltque que nous recueillmes Tula, et nous donnons les deux fts
dans la mme page.
Il est impossible premire vue de ne pas reconnatre la communaut dorigine des deux monuments. Ces
deux colonnes se trouvent plus de 300 lieues de distance et spares par un laps de temps de plusieurs sicles;
mais si lune des colonnes qui vient de Tula est toltque, comme nous en avons la certitude, que dirons-nous
de lautre? Elle est toltque aussi, car le hasard ne saurait amener de tels rapprochements. [...] (Charnay 1885:
289, 291-293; emphasis in original; for English tranlation, see Charnay 1887: 341-343)

He illustrated his argument with several detailed drawings to provide further evidence to the claim of
the Toltec analogy and origin (la communaut dorigine) between the sites of Chichn Itz and Tula
(note 3).

Over forty years earlier, the American traveler John L. Stephens had visited Chichn Itz, and introduced
the site itself with the following passage:

The ruins are nine leagues from Valladolid, the camino real to which passes directly through the eld. The great
buildings tower on both sides of the road in full sight of all passers-by, and from the fact that the road is much
travelled, the ruins of Chichen are perhaps more generally known to the people of the country than any other
in Yucatan. [...] (Stephens 1963 [1843], vol. 1: 183)

His description of the ruins is extensive and well-illustrated by Frederick Catherwood; it includes a map
of the sites core area and the rst drawings of two of its inscriptions as well as all the major buildings
(Stephens 1963 [1843], vol. 1: 188-222).
Another important event took place only a couple of days prior to Stephens and Catherwoods visit
to the ruins of Chichn Itz. In the village of Peto they had met a certain Don Pedro Po Prez. This Po
Prez, local cura (priest) and much interested in Yucatec Maya language and history, provided Stephens
with copies of several documents, among them a dictionary containing some four thousand Maya words
and an indigenous almanac for the year 1841-42:

Besides these, he furnished me with a copy of one other document, which, if genuine and authentic, throws
more light upon aboriginal history than any other known to be in existence. It is a fragment of a Maya manu-

chapter-1.indd 8 20-12-2004 13:11:55


Introduction to the study of Chichn Itz 9

script, written from memory by an Indian, at some time not designated, and entitled Principal epochs of the
ancient history of Yucatan.

It purports to give the series of katunes, or epochs, from the time of the departure of the Toltecs from the
country of Tulapan until their arrival at this, as it is called, island of Chacno-uitan, occupying, according to
Don Pios computations of katunes, the lapse of time corresponding with that between the years 144 and 217
of the Christian era.
It assigns dates to the discovery of Bacalar and then of Chichen Itza, both within the three epochs corre-
sponding with the time between A.D. 360 and A.D. 432; the colonization of Champoton, and its destruction;
the times of wandering through the uninhabited forests, and establishing themselves a second time at Chichen
Itza, within the epochs corresponding with the lapse between A.D. 888 and A.D. 936.
The epoch of the colonization of Uxmal, corresponding with the years between A.D. 936 and 1176 A.D.;
the epochs of wars between the governors of Chichen Itza and Mayapan; the destruction of the latter city of
the Uitzes of the Sierras, or highlanders; and the arrival of the Spaniards, adding that Holy men from the east
came with them; and the manuscript terminates with the epoch of the rst baptism and the arrival of the rst
bishop. [...] (Stephens 1963 [1843], vol. 1: 181)

Stephens included the original Yucatec Maya text of this document as an appendix, with his English ren-
dition of the Spanish translation and a summarized commentary provided by Po Prez (Stephens 1963
[1843], vol. 1: 323-327). The document that Stephens in part published is now generally known as the
Book of Chilam Balam of Man (cf. Craine and Reindorp 1979).

These three early publications, respectively rst published in 1843 (Stephens), 1864 (Landa, by Bras-
seur de Bourbourg), and 1885 (Charnay, English edition in 1887), have shaped research on the site of
Chichn Itz within the larger framework of the study of Classic Maya civilization. The work of Stephens
was the rst ever that combined a description of a Maya site with the translation and interpretation of
an indigenous alphabetical historical document, written in Yucatec Maya and providing a chronology
of events important to the history of the site and its inhabitants. The work of Landa, as published by
Brasseur de Bourbourg, provided an additional important Colonial Spanish alphabetical document that
referred to the history of the site. The work of Charnay was the rst to suggest a link between two sites
(Tula and Chichn Itz) within a larger region, based on a similitude in architecture and iconography as
well as the contents of ethnohistorical documents describing the history of both archaeological sites and
its inhabitants.

Since these three publications, Chichn Itz has gured prominently in the study of Classic Maya civiliza-
tion and many theories on its history have been advanced.

1.1 Objectives and Organization

The title of this study is Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatan, Mexico. A
Study of the Inscriptions, Iconography, and Architecture at a Late Classic to Early Postclassic Maya site.
The aim of this study is to provide insight into the contents and meaning of the inscriptions, iconogra-
phy, and architecture of Chichn Itz.

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10 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

It is my contention that the inscriptions, iconography, and architecture at this site are part of the con-
tinuous development of regional and pan-regional Classic Maya civilization in general and local political
legitimization and organization in specic. Like its Classic predecessors in the Southern Maya Lowlands,
Chichn Itz participated in long-distance trade networks throughout ancient Mesoamerica. Like its
predecessors, the inhabitants of Chichn Itz were familiar with dierent religious and sociopolitical
practices in Mesoamerica, specically from those areas they traded with. Through large scale and innova-
tive programs in iconography and architecture the lords of Chichn Itz expressed the legitimacy of their
rulership and Chichn Itz became the capital of a substantial Maya kingdom in North Yucatn between
circa A.D. 800-1050. To reach the aim of this study, four specic objectives have been set. Each of these
four objectives forms the theme of a separate chapter.

A large amount of previous studies has tried to provide insight into the identity of the Itz. The rst ob-
jective of the present study is to reveal the identity of the Itz and their place in the history of the Maya
area in general and the history of Chichn Itz in specic. To reach this objective several important stud-
ies will be analyzed (Thompson 1954, 1966, 1970; Tozzer 1930, 1957) which describe the identity of the
Itz and their place in Maya history in general and Chichn Itz in specic. Additionally, as background
information, a short discussion of recent ideas and hypotheses on the so-called Classic Maya collapse will
be provided. To reveal the identity of the Itz through time a complete overview of the occurrences of
the items itza and kanek in both the Southern Maya Lowlands and the Northern Maya Lowlands will be
presented. In this overview these occurrences not only will be discussed from a geographical point of view,
but it will be combined with an analysis of the rise of a specic innovative iconographic tradition in the
central area of the Southern Maya Lowlands. Pivotal passages from the so-called Books of Chilam Balam
which discuss the Itz will be presented. The katun chronicles within these Books of Chilam Balam for
instance discuss the discovery of the well of (the) Itz as well as later events up to the fall of the city of
Mayapn. The results of this research, incorporating the chronology of the Maya area in general and re-
gional event and time lines in specic, as discussed more recently (cf. Boot 1995d, 1997a, 1997c, 1999e,
2003; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1995, 1996, 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998), can be found in Chapter
2, entitled On the Origin and History of the Itz: A Chronology of Itz Aairs, ca. A.D. 350-1700.

In the wake of this rst objective there follows the second objective, which is to provide an explanation of
the so-called Toltec architecture and iconography at Chichn Itz. Although rst suggested by Charnay
(see above), it was Tozzer (1930, 1957) who provided a sharp dichotomy between Maya and Toltec
at Chichn Itz and he presented a model in which both Maya and Toltec represented dierent eth-
nic groups with dierent cultural traditions during dierent time periods. Figuring prominently in his
discussion is the arrival of Kukulkn, as described by Landa (see above), an event also mentioned and
described in the Books of Chilam Balam of Chumayel and Tizimn. The chronological part of Tozzers
model was largely based on the interpretation of historical documents including the Books of Chilam
Balam and a then still current division between a Maya Old Empire and New Empire. While subse-
quent research has shown that the Maya vs. Toltec dichotomy is articial, that there was no Old Em-
pire or New Empire, and that specic parts of the city previously identied as Maya and Toltec are
contemporary (cf. Cobos 1997, 1998a, 1998c, 1999; Lincoln 1986, 1987, 1994; Proskouriako 1970;
Ringle, Gallareta Negrn, and Bey 1998; Schele and Freidel 1990; Schele and Mathews 1998), a most
recent and revised introductory book on the Maya still professes the Maya vs. Toltec dichotomy (cf.
Coe 1999: 165-180). A rationale on the integration of the undeniably central Mexican iconography and
architecture as part of an innovative iconographic and architectural program by the Itz lords to proclaim

chapter-1.indd 10 20-12-2004 13:11:55


Introduction to the study of Chichn Itz 11

the legitimacy of their rulership will be provided. It will be shown further that analogous cases occurred
in several areas within ancient Mesoamerica. This rationale can be found in Chapter 3 entitled The Arrival
of Kukulkn and the Legitimacy of Itz Lordship at Chichn Itz.

Closely connected to this second objective is the third objective: to provide a description of the historical
and religious contents of the inscriptions at Chichn Itz. The German scholar Hermann Beyer was the
rst who published a detailed study of the inscriptions at Chichn Itz. His seminal study was published
in 1937 and it was the rst epigraphic study ever to promote a comparative structural analysis of parallel
clauses in hieroglyphic inscriptions. In 1962 and 1968 it was David Kelley who proposed the decipher-
ment kakupacal for a commonly occurring sequence of syllabic hieroglyphic signs (note 4) and who
identied this kakupacal as a possible Itz captain. Kelleys identication was based on the occurrence
of the name kakupacal in ethnohistorical documents related to the history of the site of Mayapn, in
which he was identied as an Itz. Since then, a large number of other historical individuals has been
identied in the inscriptions of Chichn Itz (cf. Boot 1996a, 1997a, 1997b, 1999e; Davoust 1980;
Grube 1994; Kelley 1968, 1976, 1982; Krochock 1988, 1998; Schele and Freidel 1990; Stuart 1987) and
in recent years also a number of gods (cf. Boot 1997f, 1999e; Stuart, Houston, and Robertson 1999). It
will be contended that the inscriptions at Chichn Itz reveal a clear case of continuity of subject matter
in regard to Classic Maya centers in the southern Maya area. The results of this epigraphic study can be
found in Chapter 4 entitled Of Gods and Human Beings in the Inscriptions at Chichn Itz between A.D.
869-890.
The fourth objective is derived from the third objective: to provide a description of the model of
political organization of Chichn Itz, based on epigraphy as well as iconography. Based on certain
decipherments and interpretations of historical documents a model of multepal or joint rule or govern-
ment has been proposed to be eective at the site (Schele 1989; Schele and Freidel 1990: 361-364). This
model was accepted without much comment in more recent studies (cf. Boot 1996a, 1997d; Coe 1999;
Krochock 1998), but only recently was reanalyzed and criticized in more detail (cf. Boot 1999e, 2001c).
Also here it will be shown that there is a clear case of continuity between centers in the southern and
northern Maya area. My analysis of Classic Maya political organization and its representation at Chichn
Itz can be found in Chapter 5 entitled Paramount Lordship andPolitical Organization at Chichn Itz:

Although I have tried to keep it at a minimum, it has not been possible to avoid the fact that specic pas-
sages from primary ethnohistorical sources are quoted more than once in these four chapters.
The sixth and nal chapter, Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, provides the
conclusions of my research, of how continuity and change can be identied in the inscriptions, ico-
nography, and architecture. In this chapter I also provide suggestions for further research. Two appendices
follow this last chapter. Appendix A contains the complete transcriptions and translations of the katun
chronicles from the Books of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Tizimn, and Man as cited throughout this
study (see below). Each transcription is based on the facsimile edition and all translations in this study,
unless specically noted otherwise, are by the author. Appendix B is dedicated to a dierent Maya group
in the Southern Maya Lowlands, the Ah Chata or Ah Chatan. Since the Early Classic also these people
are mentioned in hieroglyphic texts, probably living in an area to the north of Tikal, but who at the end
of the seventeenth century came to live on the shores of Lake Petn. As such their movement was op-
posite to that of the Ah Itz. Throughout this whole study all hieroglyphic identications, transcriptions,
transliterations, and translations are by the author, unless noted otherwise.

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12 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

1.2 Background: Chichn Itz, the Maya Area, and Mesoamerica

Chichn Itz is a large archaeological zone in the northern plain of the Yucatn peninsula in Mexico.
The toponym or place name Chichn Itz (more correctly written as Chichn Itz) may be translated as
Mouth (chi) of the Well (chen) of (the) Itz. Commonly the part Itz is interpreted to refer to its former
inhabitants, known as the Ah Itz or itz winikob, but alternatively Itz can be interpreted as a toponym
which can be translated as Enchanted (itz) Water (-(h)a) or itz territory (-a) (see Chapter 2). Among
the local population of surrounding communities the site is sometimes referred to as Chen Kuh Well
of God and the site is referred to in local stories and even in Maya variants of the biblical story of Adam
and Eve (cf. Jurez and McGee 2003).
The area covered by its ruins measures over 20 km. Today, thousands of tourists from all over the
world visit the ruins every day and pictures and descriptions of its circa thousand year old buildings can
easily be found on the internet (note 5). Most of these buildings, situated on or close to the central plaza,
have received Spanish names and now are known as El Castillo (the Castle), El Mercado (the Market-
place), El Gran Juego de Pelota (the Great Ballcourt), and Casa de las Monjas (the Nunnery). This part
of Chichn Itz is known as New Chichn or the Northern Precinct. A couple of buildings have re-
ceived an indigenous Yucatec Maya name, such as the Akab Dzib (Dark Writing) and the Chicchannob
(House of the Deer). With the possible exception of the Great Ballcourt, buildings with hieroglyphic
inscriptions can be found south of the central plaza, generally referred to as Gran Nivelacin or Great
Plaza. The central plaza is placed upon a giant raised platform. The part south of the central plaza is
known as Old Chichn or the Southern Precinct (Map 1.1) An intricate system of so-called sakbeoob
white roads or raised causeways connects the center of the site with outlying groups in the periphery of
the site, sometimes spanning a distance of over seven kilometers (cf. Cobos 1997, 1998a, 1998b, 1999;
Cobos and Winemiller 2001; Schmidt 1994a, 1994b, 1999, 2000a, 2000b). Based on the most recent
research, Chichn Itz can be dated to a period of circa A.D. 700-1250. The hieroglyphic inscriptions at
the site all date (with our current knowledge) from a period of A.D. 832 to A.D. 998, with the highest
concentration of inscriptions falling in a twenty year period between A.D. 870-890. As such I date the
apogee or orescence of the site to circa A.D. 800-1050.

Chichn Itz is surrounded by a series of small and large archaeological sites, some of which are of direct
importance to the history of the site. Close to Chichn Itz are the sites of Yul and Halakal, and more
distant, the site of Ek Balam. Several buildings at these sites contain hieroglyphic inscriptions. The
single inscription known from Halakal contains one of two references to the contemporary ruler of Ek
Balam (see Chapter 4 & 5). The northern section of the Yucatn peninsula contains several hundreds of
archaeological sites, some of them connected with raised causeways, such as Yaxun and Cob, Uxmal
and Nohpat, as well as Ak and Izamal (Map 1.2). At the site of Uxmal there might be an inscription
containing a reference to a contemporary ruler of Chichn Itz (see Chapter 4).
The northern section of the Yucatn peninsula belongs to the greater Maya area. In the past, as well
as today, the Maya occupy three dierent geographic zones. The southern zone is comprised of the
Guatemalan Highlands, while the central zone is comprised of a large lowland area incorporating the
Usamacinta drainage, the Ro Pasin drainage, the central Petn area, as well as the Ro Motagua drain-
age. The northern zone is comprised of the Yucatecan peninsula, currently incorporating the Mexican
states of Campeche, Yucatn, and Quintana Roo, and the independent state of Belize (Map 1.3). With
the origins of Maya culture dating back to circa 2000 B.C., the area is dotted with archaeological sites,

chapter-1.indd 12 20-12-2004 13:11:56


Introduction to the study of Chichn Itz 13

Map 1.1 Central Area of Chichn Itz (in G. Stuart 1989: Fig. 2)

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14 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Map 1.2 Northern Yucatn with Major Sites Indicated (by the author)

chapter-1.indd 14 20-12-2004 13:12:01


Introduction to the study of Chichn Itz 15

many of them constructed in the Classic period between circa A.D. 250 and A.D. 1000. In this study,
the following general periods are recognized (note 6):

Early Preclassic period circa 2000 B.C. - 1000 B.C.


Middle Preclassic period circa 1000 B.C. - 400 B.C.
Late Preclassic period circa 400 B.C. - A.D. 250

Early Classic period circa A.D. 250 - A.D. 550


Middle Classic period circa A.D. 550 - A.D. 750
Late Classic period circa A.D. 750 - A.D. 1000

Early Postclassic period circa A.D. 1000 - A.D. 1250


Late Postclassic period circa A.D. 1250 - A.D. 1524/1525

Early Colonial period circa A.D. 1525/1526 - A.D. 1697


Late Colonial period circa A.D. 1697 - A.D. 1850
Period of Independent Nations circa A.D. 1850 - present

The Maya area itself belongs to a larger cultural area in general referred to as Mesoamerica (Map 1.4).
Studies by Kirchho (1943, 1967), Kroeber (1939), Litvak King (1975), Viv (1935a, 1935b), and Wil-
ley (1962, 1981) describe Mesoamerica as a unied area (although specically the northern borders have
shifted in more recent descriptions, cf. Gorenstein and Foster 2000) in which its inhabitants, although
linguistically dierentiated, shared (and, in some cases, still share) a large number of cultural features or
elements, such as:

hieroglyphic writing; signs for numerals and value relative to position (place value notation); books folded
like screens; historical annals and maps;
a year of 365 days that consists of 18 months of 20 days each, with an additional period of ve days; a
combination of 20 signs and 13 numerals to form a period of 260 days; a combination of these two periods
to form a cycle of 52 years; festivities at the end of certain periods; days that carry a good or bad augury;
people are named after the day of their birth;
knowledge of the movement of the planets against the background of the stars;
the use of paper and rubber; certain forms of human sacrice (decapitation and heart extraction); certain
forms of self-sacrice (ears, tongue, penis); a series of deities (or pantheistic religion), including deities of
nature as well as deities emblematic of royal descent;
specialized market places; military orders (like eagle and jaguar warrior classes);
a game with a rubber ball played in a special court; stepped pyramids; stucco oors;
the idea of a cosmic cycle of creation and destruction; a universe oriented to the four directions; dierent
colors and deities associated with the cardinal points and the center

The fact that the Maya area shares these kinds of features with other neighboring areas, makes it possible
to analyze certain aspects, pertinent to my objectives, within the larger concept of Mesoamerica. How-
ever, in case of any such comparison of aspects one has to take note of the phenomenon of disjunction.
This concept was introduced into Mesoamerican studies by Kubler (1981), based on the concept as rst
described by Erwin Panofsky (1979 [1932]). In that study Panofsky showed that a particular symbol in

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16 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Map 1.3 The Maya Area with Major Sites Indicated (in Eggebrecht and Eggebrecht 1992: Abb. 33)

chapter-1.indd 16 20-12-2004 14:02:36


Introduction to the study of Chichn Itz 17

Map 1.4 Mesoamerica with Major Sites Indicated (by the author)

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18 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

visual art not necessarily retains the same value throughout history. This observation may also be valid in
Mesoamerican art, as some recent studies have shown (cf. Freidel 1981, Nicholson 1976, Van der Loo
1987: 11). As such particular symbols, elements, or aspects (specically) in visual art need to be studied in
detail as only in that way their historical evolution and geographic distribution (especially when the visual
narratives are accompanied by texts that carry dates and have archaeologically established provenance)
can be captured in a satisfactory manner. A broad visual art (narrative) context in which these particular
symbols, elements, or aspects can be studied is preferred; only than, and ideally that is, one can establish
if (and when) conceptual and perceptual change took place or union persisted.

1.3 Sources and Methodology

In this study a wide variety of sources of information will be used. Most of these sources of information
stem from an archaeological context. The rst archaeological nds which are identied as culturally Maya
are dated to ca. 2000 B.C., while the rst large permanent settlements date from around ca. 550-450
B.C. (cf. Coe 1999; Henderson 1981; Sharer 1994). Continuous archaeological research in the Maya
area provides in-depth information on construction techniques, styles, and sequences, on settlement pat-
terns, on artifacts and ecofacts, as well as on ceramic production and seriation, which, in combination
with a diversity of dating techniques (e.g. radiocarbon, obsidian hydration), has led to specic site, sub-
regional and pan-regional chronologies. Archaeological data constitute the rst major source of informa-
tion on Classic Maya civilization.
Archaeology also provides the second and third major sources of information. At the end of the Pre-
classic period (ca. A.D. 250), on a large scale Maya monumental sculpture began to be inscribed with
texts. These texts were written in an elaborate and dynamic logo-syllabic script generally referred to as
Maya hieroglyphic writing. Most of these inscriptions are dated in a 52-year cyclical indigenous calendar,
by Mayanists referred to as the Calendar Round, a combination of the 260 day calendar (nicknamed
tzolkin count/order of days) and the 365 day calendar (haab year) (note 7). Many of the Calendar
Round are preceded by a linear indigenous calendar dubbed by Mayanists Initial Series or Long
Count consisting of ever growing units of time (kin day, winal 20 days, tun period of 360 days,
katun period of 20 times 360 days, baktun period of 20 times 20 times 360 days, etc.) (note 8). At
rst, advancement in decipherment was slow and directed towards calendrical references, which, now,
through a specic correlation constant, can be converted into dates in our own Christian calendar (note
9). Landmark studies by Knorozov (e.g. 1954, 1958), Berlin (1958, 1963), Proskouriako (1960, 1963,
1964), and Kelley (1962, 1968) broke new grounds and initiated a spur of new epigraphic research by
researchers as Floyd Lounsbury, Linda Schele, Peter Mathews, Barbara MacLeod, and David Stuart (cf.
Justeson and Campbell 1984) leading to our present advanced understanding of Maya hieroglyphic writ-
ing and the language(s) it represents (cf. Bricker 2004; Coe 1992; Houston, Robertson, and Stuart 2000;
Lacadena and Wichmann 1999). The inscriptions constitute the second major source of information on
Classic Maya civilization.
During the Late Preclassic, both architectural and freestanding monuments were decorated with com-
plex iconography. For example, giant Late Preclassic anthropomorphic and zoomorphic masks are known
at sites as Cerros, El Mirador, Uaxactn, and Acanceh. From ca. A.D. 250 this imagery, particularly on
freestanding monuments, in many cases was accompanied by hieroglyphic inscriptions (note 10). These
hieroglyphic inscriptions provided explanations to the contents of the complex imagery. Maya iconogra-
phy and its complex narrative structures have been the subject of many separate studies (e.g. Benson and

chapter-1.indd 18 20-12-2004 14:02:38


Introduction to the study of Chichn Itz 19

Grin 1988; Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993; Proskouriako 1950; Schele and Miller 1986; Schele and
Freidel 1990; Schele and Mathews 1998; Spinden 1913, 1957). Next to architectural and freestanding
monuments, the complex Maya imagery can be found on a variety of dierent media and objects (e.g.
tools of stone and bone, ceramics, screenfold books). Maya iconography and architecture constitutes the
third major source of information.

During the Colonial period, many reports were written by members of both the Spanish colonial govern-
ment and clergy on indigenous customs, religion, and history (e.g. Cogolludo 1971 [1688]; Landa 1986
[1566]; Lizana 1995 [1633]; Snchez de Aguilar 1989 [1639]). More importantly, Maya specialists in
religion, history and politics left us detailed records of their own aairs in historical documents in their
own language but drafted in alphabetic writing. In Yucatn, some of the most important records are
known as the Books of Chilam Balam. Well-known among Mayanists are the Books of Chilam Balam
of Chumayel, Man, and Tizimn. The rst time a translation was published of such a Maya text dates
to 1843, when Stephens included an English rendition of a Spanish translation of a historical chronicle
from the Man. These documents, as well as others written in the Yucatec Maya language of the Colonial
period, provide several problems. Foremost among these problems is the origin of these particular docu-
ments. Why were they written and compiled? When, on what occasion, and by whom? As such each of
these sources should be handled with care, as the contents may have been compiled and manipulated due
to dierent scribal intentions (cf. Gunsenheimer 2002: 18-52; Liljefors Persson 2000: 53-77). Informa-
tion furnished by these sources should be critically analyzed and checked internally (detailed comparison
of parallel texts within these documents) as well as externally (comparison to similar information from
other documents). Secondary to this rst problem, there arises another problem, that of translation (see
Chapter 2 & Appendix A). These documents, intended for our eyes or not, now constitute the fourth
major source of information. These particular sources, both Yucatec Maya and Spanish, are generally
referred to as ethnohistorical sources (note 11).
A fth major source of information is formed by a wide range of anthropological and linguistic re-
search, the earliest of which dates to about the middle of the nineteenth century, right up to the present
day (note 12). Close to 7 million descendants of the Classic Maya still live in Honduras, Belize, Gua-
temala, and the Mexican states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatn, and Quintana Roo. Many of
them speak a Maya language, but as time progresses less and less are monolingual and additionally speak
Spanish or English (Belize). Not only have the Maya survived the oppression and repression of the Colo-
nial period, but especially in the Highlands also the atrocities of genocide committed under the wing of
several successive twentieth century governments in Guatemala through either brutal army intervention
or actions organized by ultra right wing paramilitary and underground political groups. Independent and
resilient as the Maya are, they still speak their languages, plant and harvest their corn, hold their calen-
drical ceremonies, perform their dance dramas, and choose their own way to participate in these rapidly
changing nations. In reference to the present descendants of the Classic Maya, the historic time depth of
Maya culture is some 4,000 years.

The study of Classic Maya civilization is clearly multidisciplinary in nature as it combines a variety of
research techniques associated with each separate discipline, itself associated with a specic source of
information. This method of investigation is now commonly referred to in Mesoamerican and Maya
archaeology as the conjunctive method or approach (e.g. Carmack and Weeks 1981: 323; Fox 1987: 1;
Sharer 1994: 862). The structuring and importance of this method of investigation in present research
can be found well-described in a review article on the site of Copn:

chapter-1.indd 19 20-12-2004 14:02:39


20 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

In the course of this review we hope to make clear that none of the past or present research programs by them-
selves are adequate to provide a nal understanding of the origins and demise of the Classic Maya polity of
Copn. While each has made important contributions to resolving these questions, it is only by combining the
results of all relevant research at Copn that we can approach comprehensive answers (Fash and Sharer 1991:
167; emphasis in original).

Also in the present study I employ the conjunctive approach as a method of investigation in regard to
Chichn Itz. Through this method of investigation I present four chapters, each dedicated and organized
according to the particular objectives as described above.

End Notes
1) The French abb Charles E. Brasseur de Bourbourg discovered the copy of the manuscript in the library of the Real Academia
de la Historia in Madrid in 1863 (the manuscript carries the signature B. 68 and the numbers 9-27-2 & 5153). He published
the manuscript the next year in a simultaneous Spanish-French version, which, however, was incomplete. His text (and French
translation) ends with folio 49, while the manuscript ends with folio 66. We know that the manuscript found by Brasseur de
Bourbourg is a summary version of the original Landa manuscript, as one of the folios before the actual text contains the sentence
Relacion de las cosas de Yucatan sacada de lo que escrivio el padre fray Diego de Landa de la orden de st Francisco (original spelling;
emphasis mine). The probable date of original written work (thus not the summary version) is taken from the top of the rst
numbered folio, which provides the name of Fray D[iego] de Landa followed by the Roman number MDLXVI or 1566. As
Brasseur de Bourbourg remarked rst, the extant copy was probably produced some 30 years after Landas death, judging from the
style of hand writing (Brasseur de Bourbourg 1864: iii, note 2). Landa himself lived from 1524 to 1579 (Brasseur de Bourbourg
1864: vii; Lpez de Cogolludo 1971 [1688]: 475 [Lib. 6, Cap. XVIII]). At least two dierent scribal hands can be identied in
the text; the rst scribal hand is responsible for the text (and its illustrations) on folios 1-49 and folios 59-66 (fol. 67-68 are maps),
while the second scribal hand is responsible for the text on folios 50-58. The actual manuscript is bound in the order of folios 18-45,
1-17, and 46-68. On the fact that even more scribal hands (one possibly early eighteenth century) can be recognized as well as on
the possible reason for the production of the summary text and the authenticity of the Relacin itself, see Restall and Chuchiak
2002.
2) In this study I use my own transcription of the original text, of which I have a facsimile version, of the summary version of
Landas 1566 manuscript. The original orthography is retained (see A Note on Orthography preceding this chapter), unless
noted otherwise. I connect my transcriptions of the relevant manuscript passages to the same passages in two more widely available
publications of the Landa text, namely the 1986 Porra edition (Spanish) and the 1941 Tozzer edition (English).
3) In his preface, Charnay provides insight into his methodology and his central thesis on the origin and the relatedness of the ancient
cultures of Mexico:
Aussi, pour tudier sainement lhistoire de la civilization en Amrique, il faut se borner aux pices originales du procs,
cest--dire aux monuments et aux citations historiques qui sy rapportent; il faut faire table rase des opinions reues,
ignorer tous les commentaires, chapper tout inuence, et, puisque la photographie et les moulages nous apportent pour
la premire fois des documents irrcusables, puisque les originaux sont sous nos yeux, nous naurons qu choisir dans les
historiens les passages qui se rapportent ces monuments, en expliquent lusage et nous en donnent parfois la liation;
nous naurons plus alors qu rapprocher les ruines et les dices des provinces diverses, pour les comparer entre eux et
runir les liens de parent qui les unissent, et nous verrons quils appartiennent, quels que soient la distance et le temps
qui les sparent ou les dtails qui les direncient, une seule et mme civilisation. Nous verrons que cette civilisation est
relativement moderne et quelle est toltque (Charnay 1885: VIII).
Based on this passage, Charnay can even be identied as one of the rst researchers who worked within a framework in which he
proposed that the dierent cultures in Mexico belonged to one larger cultural area and were derived from one ancestral culture. That

chapter-1.indd 20 20-12-2004 14:02:39


Introduction to the study of Chichn Itz 21

cultural area, particularly since Kirchho (1943, 1967), is now known as Mesoamerica.
4) In his 1968 article, Kelley provides an extensive analysis of this sequence of hieroglyphic signs (in his words a glyph series),
which he transliterates as ka-ku-pa-ca-l(a). While his argument is elaborate, unfortunately not one illustration accompanies the
explanatory text (see Chapter 4).
5) Several dozens of internet sites are dedicated to Chichn Itz; one simply enters chichen itza as a search option with any of the
available search engines (e.g. AltaVista, Google, HotBot, Lycos, Opera, Teoma, Yahoo). Here I mention only one site, which at
present can be found at the following URL: <http://thematrix.sureste.com/cityview/merida1/chichen/>. This Mexican site contains
several articles written by the archaeologists working at Chichn Itz and is generally well-illustrated. It has to be noted that this
site, unfortunately, is not regularly updated (most recent visits in August 2004, with many internal links not available).
6) The period terminology used in this and other chronological charts for the Maya area ultimately derives from the work of Johann
Joachim Winckelmann, who in 1764 was the rst within the study of (Greek) art styles to propose a dierentiation of time periods
to identify epochs of development, growth and decline. Here, in the listing of periods, the Late Classic period at circa A.D. 750-
1000 incorporates the Terminal Classic period, which may be set at circa A.D. 900-1000. In large measure I follow the general
periods as constructed by other Mesoamericanists and Mayanists (e.g. Coe 1999: 10; Miller 1999: 232; Miller and Taube 1997:
10; Webster 2002: 43). Notable exceptions are the years A.D. 1524-25 at the end of the Postclassic period and the beginning of
the Early Colonial period, and the year A.D. 1697 at the end of the Early Colonial period and the beginning of the Late Colonial
period. In the year A.D. 1524 Alvarado founded the rst Spanish capital in the Guatemalan Highlands, while in the year A.D. 1525
Corts visited the Itz king Kanek at Tayasal in the Petn area (see Chapter 2). These two particular events clearly mark the end of
the independent indigenous periods and the beginning of the Spanish colonization. In A.D. 1697 the capital of the last independent
Maya kingdom fell into the hands of the Spanish Crown (see Chapter 2, section 2.3.3). This particular event marks the transition
of the Early Colonial period to the Late Colonial period in the Maya Lowland area. At that time all Maya (with the exception of
the Lacandn Maya and possibly some other small Maya groups) came to be formally colonized.
7) The Calendar Round is a cycle of 52 years (of 365 days) that consists of a combination of two smaller cycles. The rst cycle
consists of a coecient between 1 and 13 combined with one of 20 dierent day-signs which leads to a 260 day ritual calendar.
For the Maya area the day names, derived from Landas manuscript, are, in the orthography adopted in this study: Imix, Ik,
Akbal, Kan, Chikchan, Kimi, Manik, Lamat, Muluk, Ok, Chuwen, Eb, Ben, Hix, Men, Kib, Kaban, Etznab, Kawak, and
Ahaw. Some of these Yucatec Maya day names do comply with the Classic Maya period names of the days (e.g. Lam[b]at, Hix,
Ahaw), while others do not (e.g. Imix vs. Ha; Manik vs. Chih; Men vs. Tzikin). The second cycle consists of 18 dierent months
of each 20 days (either counted from 0 to 19 or 1 to 20), with an additional period of 5 days (0 to 4 or 1 to 5), which leads
to a 365 solar calendar. The Maya did not count leap days, the solar year was always 365 days (a recent study proposes that
in Mesoamerica calendrical specialists did calculate a sixth or leap day at particular time intervals, but at present I do not nd the
arguments convincing; cf. Bhm and Bhm 2003, Mora-Echeverra 1997). For the Maya area the month names, again derived
from Landas manuscript, are: Pop, Wo, Sip, Sotz, Tzek, Xul, Yaxkin, Mol, Chen, Yax, Sak, Keh, Mak, Kankin, Muwan, Pax,
Kayab, and Kumkuh. Some months were pronounced the same in the Classic Maya period (e.g. Yaxkin, Muwan, Pax[il]), other
were not (e.g. Pop vs. Kanhalab or Kanhalaw; Tzek vs. Katzew; Kankin vs. Uniw; Kayab vs. Kanasiy) as their written forms
suggest. The additional or intercalary ve-day period is named Wayeb (according to Landa), in the Classic period known as either
Way, Wayhab and Kol Ahaw (compare to Boot 2002a: 112-113). Both these cycles combined produce the larger cycle nicknamed
the Calendar Round. This round or cycle consists of 18,980 days, or 73 times 260 days combined with 52 times 365 days.
The Calendar Round thus covers 52 years, a time period also known as the Mesoamerican century.
8) The Initial Series or Long Count was probably borrowed by the Early Classic Maya from their western and southern neighbors,
as the earliest examples in this recording mechanism are found at Tres Zapotes, Tuxtla, La Mojarra, El Bal, and Abaj Takalik.
These particular inscriptions date to a period of circa 150 B.C. to A.D. 150, while the rst actual Initial Series or Long Count
in the central Maya area occurs in the hieroglyphic text on Tikal Stela 29, at 8.12.14.8.15, 13 Men 3 Sip, or July 8, A.D. 292.
Each Initial Series or Long Count opens with an introductory glyph, since long referred to by epigraphers as the Initial Series
Introductory Glyph. The opening sign contains three permanent hieroglyphic signs and one variable sign. This last sign varies

chapter-1.indd 21 20-12-2004 14:02:39


22 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

according to the 20 day period recorded and this variable sign is referred to as the patron of the month. The common Initial
Series or Long Count records, through a place notational system and associated period-glyphs, the amount of days elapsed since
the beginning date of 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 8 Kumkuh, in ever larger growing units of the kin (day), the winal or winik (or 20
kins), the tun (or 18 winals/winiks), the katun (or 20 tuns), and the baktun (or 20 katuns; the gloss baktun was invented, it is not
an indigenous Maya word; the Classic Maya word was probably pik). The Initial Series or Long Count opens with the amount
of baktuns, followed by the amount of katuns, tuns, winals or winiks, and kins. Thus the date of Tikal Stela 29 records 8 baktuns,
12 katuns, 14 tuns, 8 winals/winiks, and 15 kins.
9) In this study I employ the now generally accepted correlation constant of 584,285 (Lounsbury 1982: 166). It has to be noted that
over the years a great many alternative correlation constants have been proposed (Edmonson 1988: 165-167). In suit of many
recent studies, all Maya dates will be converted to dates in the Julian Christian calendar and not the Gregorian Christian calendar
(as adapted from A.D. 1582 and onwards, cf. Edmonson 1988: 178). For example, the Long Count date 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw
8 Kumkuh is correlated with September 8, 3114 B.C. (Julian) and August 13, 3114 B.C. (Gregorian). Reconstructed dates or
reconstructed parts of dates are preceded by an asterisk (i.e. *9.16.15.0.0, *7 *Ahaw 18 Pop). For the transition to Christian dates
the conversion program Maya Calendar 2.0 developed by Greg Reddick (Right Brain Software) was used.
10) The collection of the Ethnographic Museum in Antwerp contains a small, unprovenanced grey stone stela with the possible
depiction of a Maya ruler and a single column early Maya hieroglyphic text. Based on comparison with other Early Classic
monuments, this small stela may date to the middle and late part of the Late Preclassic period (250 B.C. - A.D. 250). If my
estimation is correct, this stela may be one of the earliest freestanding monuments that can be identied as culturally Maya (cf.
Boot 1999a). Recently several miniature stelae were discovered in the Petn area, some of which are of Early Classic origin (stelae
at Bajo de la Joventud and La Toronja, cf. Grube and Martin 2001: II-43).
11) The only real distinction that exists between the denominators historical sources and ethnohistorical sources is one of Western
vs. Non-Western history. This distinction is highly suspect and, intentionally or not, seems to value Western history dierently
from Non-Western history. As alphabetical documents in either Spanish or in any of the Maya languages refer to historical events
in either the recent or the remote past, in this study I would prefer to refer to these documents as historical sources in the true sense
of the word: that these documents are sources on history, accounts or recordings of signicant events and sociocultural processes
with associated dates pertaining to a specic community and/or people and considered to be diagnostic of such community and/or
people (i.e. Spanish history, Maya history, or Itz history). As ethnohistorical is now generally applied to this kind of documents,
I reluctantly continue to use this word.
12) Here I follow Bruce Love who places the dividing line between (ethno)historical and anthropological studies in the middle of the
nineteenth century. As Love (1986: 4) writes, [t]he dening criteria separating the two kinds of sources is the purpose or intent for
which the reports were made. As such Love identies Baezas 1845 report on native activities as the last (ethno)historical source
(cf. Baeza 1845, 1946) and Brasseur de Bourbourgs 1870 report (based on notes from the 1840s) as the rst anthropological
source (this report is included in Brasseurs 1869-1870 work on the Codex Troano [now part of the Codex Madrid]).

chapter-1.indd 22 20-12-2004 14:02:39


Chapter 2

On the Origin and History of the Itz:


a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700

2.0 Introduction

For anthropologists, ethnohistorians, linguists and others working in the Maya area the Itz are known
to have lived in an extensive area around the central lakes in the Petn region of Guatemala. Their de-
scendants, of whom now only a handful still speak the Itz language, live around the central lake now
named Petn Itz (cf. Hoing 1991; Hoing and Tesucn 1997, 2000). According to colonial sources,
between circa A.D. 1525-1697, these Itz were governed by consecutive rulers who went by the name or
hereditary title of Kanek. One of the rst historical rulers named Kanek was visited by Hernn Corts
during his journey through the central Petn area to Honduras, while the last historical ruler named
Kanek was taken captive a short time after the nal conquest of the island of Nohpetn, the capital of
the Itz kingdom. The island is situated in a lake locally referred to as Nohukn, probably a corruption
of Nohukum Great Water or Lagoon (Castellanos Cambranes 1997: 223, note 6). Nohpetn Great
Island was the name given to the island by the last king named Kanek, during an interrogation after the
nal conquest (Castellanos Cambranes 1997: 223, note 7). The Itz probably referred to their territory
as Zuyuh Petn Itz (Jones 1998: 7, note 8 [pp. 427-428]), Untainted Water, Province of Itz. The
nal conquest itself took place on March 13, 1697. Kanek was taken to Santiago de Guatemala (now
Antigua), the contemporary capital of Guatemala, and was placed under house arrest. There the last king
of the Itz kingdom died at an unknown age.
According to Fray Bartolom Fuensalida, who wrote a report in 1619 now lost but which was cited
extensively in the work of the Yucatec historiographer Lpez de Cogolludo, the Itz had ed from Chi-
chn Itz to the central Petn area one hundred years before the coming of the Spaniards. This particular
passage will be cited below. Many researchers took this passage to mean that the Itz themselves were not
native to the central Petn. In another source, the work of Fray Diego de Landa, a small passage already
cited in the rst chapter (and to be cited again below) may indicate that the Itz, who came to Chichn
Itz and founded the city, possibly were not native to northern Yucatn.

The Itz gure prominently in the so-called Books of Chilam Balam, indigenous books written in the
Yucatec Maya language, but in Latin script and on European style paper. The copies that have survived
of these books, have come to us through several stages of editing and copying between the sixteenth and
mid-nineteenth century. In these books the Itz are related to the site of Chichn Itz. The Itz are identi-
ed as the founders of this site, but also as the people who later migrate to areas outside the Northern
Maya Lowlands. It was primarily based on the study of these Books of Chilam Balam in general and the
translation of the Chilam Balam of Chumayel in specic, that Ralph L. Roys concluded:

It has never been satisfactorily explained just who the Itz were. Although their connection with the history
of Yucatn began at a very early period, the native literature always refers to them as a people apart. They were
feared and hated, but at the same time regarded as holy men. They spoke the Maya language, but are called
ah-nunob which means those who speak our language brokenly. Their customs were certainly dierent from

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24 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

those of the rest of the people of northern Yucatn, for they are called rogues, people without fathers or mothers
and people who are disobedient to their fathers and mothers. [...] (Roys 1933: 178; emphasis in original).

Before but specically since then, many studies have appeared that try to provide an explanation of the
identity of the Itz. The explanations or hypotheses that are given are closely related with the analysis of
an important part of the Yucatec Maya texts in the Books of Chilam Balam. This particular part of the
Books of Chilam Balam is generally referred to as the chronicle of the katuns, in which katun refers
to an unspecied period of circa twenty years. The Classic Maya word for this twenty year period was
not katun, but probably winikhab twenty years, based on the reading of the superx T28 WINIK or
winik twenty, the main sign T548 HAB or hab as period of 360 days, and the occasional prexed
sign T117 wi (cf. Stuart 1996; compare to Houston 1994, personal communication to Matthews 1994a:
113, note 54). It should be noted, however, that a recently excavated text at Comacalco, Tabasco (Armijo
Torres, Gallegos Gmora, and Zender 2000: 323, Fig. 6, ninth shell pendant in photograph; Fernan-
dez Martnez 2000: 253, Fig. 2 [Pendiente 9aR]), records a collocation spelled tu-T548-? (Anaya H.,
Mathews, and Guenter 2001: 2; but note that this context is not calendrical), which makes it possible
that the Classic Maya gloss could have been winiktun (which would be in accord with the fact that the
Classic tun is indeed 360 days, while the Postclassic hab refers to the year of 365 days).
Recent decipherments of specic hieroglyphic passages have led to the identication of the titles itza
ahaw Itz King and kuhul itza() ahaw God-like Itz King in Classic inscriptions of the central Petn
and its direct surroundings as well as, importantly, at Chichn Itz. Also recently the nominal phrase or
hereditary title kanek (or chanek, see below) has been deciphered in several hieroglyphic texts from the
central Petn area and surroundings as well as, again importantly, at Chichn Itz. Combined with texts
from the Books of Chilam Balam, the identication of these titles and nominal phrase has led to a new
hypothesis on the origin of the Itz, their role in the foundation of Chichn Itz in specic, and the place
of the Itz in Maya history in general (cf. Boot 1995d, 1996a, 1997b, 1997c; Schele, Grube, and Boot
1998; Schele and Mathews 1998).

This chapter is concerned with the origin of the Itz, their place in Maya history, and their putative
involvement with the foundation and development of Chichn Itz. First, a short overview of past re-
search on the identity of the Itz will be presented. In this overview a summary will be given of three
particularly important proposals which provided an explanation of the identity of the Itz and their role
in Maya history. Second, a short introduction to the so-called collapse of the Classic Maya centers will
be presented. In this section some of the current ideas on the collapse will be summarized. Third, a re-
construction on the origin and identity of the Itz will be presented. The reconstructions proposed here
are based on the decipherment and interpretation of particular hieroglyphic texts in the Southern and
Northern Maya Lowlands, associated iconography and architecture, the translation and interpretation of
the so-called chronicles in the Books of Chilam Balam, and a variety of colonial historical sources on
both Yucatn and the central Petn area. Part of this reconstruction derives from joint research with Linda
Schele and Nikolai Grube, which rst appeared in 1995 and in a more denitive version in 1996, which
eventually was published in 1998 (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; cf. Schele and Mathews 1998). In an
earlier separately written essay I slightly deviated from the original proposal (cf. Boot 1997c) and it is here
that my most recent proposal is presented in full detail. The basic information for this reconstruction is
organized in three separate sections, each dedicated to a specic geographic area and covering a specic
time period, and each including a detailed presentation and discussion of hieroglyphic and iconographic
examples.

chapter-2.indd 24 20-12-2004 14:10:10


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 25

2.1 Previous Research on the Identity and Historical Role of the Itz

Before and after Roys wrote the passage on the identity of the Itz, as cited above, there has been a
variety of studies on the subject. The Itz have been identied as Maya (cf. Barrera Vsquez and Morley
1949; Boot 1995d, 1996a, 1997c; Holmes 1895-97: 122; Jakeman 1945, 1946; Means 1917; Morley
1946, 1947; Recinos 1951: 66-67; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998; Thompson
1927a), as Toltecs (Spinden 1957: 385), as Mayanized Mexicans/Mexicanized Maya (cf. Brainerd
1958; Roys 1933, 1962; Thompson 1941, 1945, 1954; Tozzer 1957), as Putun (or Chontal) Itz (cf.
Ball and Taschek 1989; Kowalski 1989; Thompson 1970, 1977), coming from Tabasco (Peniche Rivero
1987: 945), coming from Campeche (cf. Ball 1986), and, in a rare case, the Itz even remain unidentied
(Brainerd 1954: 79-88). For the purpose of the present study only a short summary is presented of three
previous studies and their particular background with regard to the identity of the Itz. These studies are
not only concerned with the origin and identity of the Itz, but also with the foundation and history of
the site of Chichn Itz in specic and the place of the Itz in Maya history in general.

In 1957 Alfred M. Tozzer published his Chichen Itza and Its Cenote of Sacrice: A Comparative Study
of Contemporaneous Maya and Toltec. This study is a very elaborate version of his earlier paper, pub-
lished in 1930, entitled Maya and Toltec Figures at Chichen Itza. In this rst paper he wrote:

Chichen was occupied during the First Empire as shown by a single stone lintel with its date, 619 A.D [here
Tozzer proposed a date in a dierent correlation, derived from the work by Spinden and Ludendor, namely
489,484]. No building or other remains have yet been identied with this early period. Of the structures now
standing it has long been possible by means of artistic and architectural criteria to dierentiate those belonging
to the Second Empire from those built after the conquest of Chichen and other cities by Mexican troops, the
Toltecs, under the leadership of Quetzalcouatl at the end of the twelfth century (Tozzer 1930: 155).

According to Tozzer, there was a sharp iconographic division between ethnic Maya and Toltec, which
he identied accordingly and described and illustrated in detail in the remainder of his 1930 paper. It
became the base for his 1957 paper.
The introduction to Tozzers 1957 paper opened with a short expos on Maya archaeology and chro-
nology (Tozzer 1957: 12-19). In his proposal of the specic chronology of Chichn Itz, Tozzer used a
large amount of sources of information, which he introduced one by one. Among his sources were the
works by early colonial writers as Landa, Cogolludo, Lizana, as well as the katun chronicles and prophe-
cies contained in the Books of Chilam Balam (Tozzer 1957: 20-21). Based on a comparative analysis of
archaeology and ethnohistory, for both the Maya area and central Mexico, Tozzer proposed the following
chronology:

Chichen I: Late Classic Stage: Yucatan Maya (600 - 1000)


Chichen II: Toltec-Maya, Stage A (ca. 948 - ca. 1145)
Chichen III: Toltec-Maya, Stage B (ca. 1150 - 1260)
Chichen IV: Period of Dissolution (1280 - 1450)
Chichen V: Period of Abandonment (1460 - 1542)

According to this proposal, Chichen Itz was occupied by the Maya in the Chichen I period. To this
period belonged all the buildings that had inscriptions and these buildings were dated between circa A.D.

chapter-2.indd 25 20-12-2004 14:10:10


26 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

870-1000 (here a new correlation was used, dierent from his 1930 proposal). At the end of this period
the Maya abandoned Chichn Itz after which, at A.D. 948, the Toltec arrived at Chichn Itz, headed
by their captain Quetzalcoatl. Through the interpretation of certain passages in the Books of Chilam
Balam and after establishing the context of the southward movement of Quetzalcoatl and the Toltecs
from Tula, Hidalgo (central Mexico), Tozzer wrote:

The new architectural features at Chichen, especially the appearance of Toltec warriors here for the rst time in
large numbers, as recorded in bas-relief and in fresco, naturally needs to be accounted for, and the Toltec hero
is called in as the deus ex machina.
It must be confessed that the evidence of a historical personage named Quetzalcoatl appearing at this time
is weak, especially so far as Yucatan sources are concerned. On the other hand, an actual entrada of foreigners
before 1000, the cult of the Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan), and the archaeological and ethnologi-
cal evidence in Chichen II are dicult to deny (Tozzer 1957: 30-31; emphasis in original).

The Toltec who entered Chichn Itz were headed by Quetzalcoatl, a gure of central Mexican origin,
as Tozzer posited. This gure was also known by a Maya name and Tozzer referred to him as Kukulcan
I. Here Tozzer interpreted an important passage in the Books of Chilam Balam of Chumayel and Ti-
zimn, namely a prophecy which stated that, in a certain katun 4 Ahaw, Quetzalcoatl (only referred to as
Kukulcan) would arrive. According to his interpretation of the katun chronology, this katun 4 Ahaw
started in A.D. 948. Most of his information to further substantiate this Toltec invasion was based on
specic readings of the Books of Chilam Balam and interpretation of the archaeology (architecture and
iconography):

In the short survey of Maya archaeology, the seemingly religious character of most of the extant buildings was
brought out. There seems to be no question but that these centers diered in general plan, in application of
decoration and its character from early to late times. New ideas, new beliefs, and rituals introduced by the
Toltec at Chichen undoubtedly aected architectural planning and decoration. The importance of the wor-
ship of the Feathered Serpent, for example, is certainly reected in great increase in the representation of this
mythological reptile (Tozzer 1957: 32).

Here lies the crux in the Maya-Toltec dichotomy. Tozzers study appeared at a time when it still was
generally thought that the Maya were a peaceful people, with priests as their leaders, who erected build-
ings and had monuments carved with inscriptions dedicated to the passing of time (the time of detailed
decipherments was still to come, cf. Coe 1992). The Toltec were seen as a barbaric and warlike people
who entered the Maya area from central Mexico. The two, Maya and Toltec, were considered to be dia-
metrically opposed and as such provided a good explanation for the posited change in architecture and
iconography. In Tozzers proposal, the Chichen II period represented the rst stage of Toltec-Maya. This
rst Toltec-Maya period lasted until A.D. 1145. In that period all the Toltec buildings on the central
plaza were built. In the Chichen III period, the second stage of Toltec-Maya, it were the Itz who came
to Chichn Itz and they were led by Kukulkn (this Kukulkn gure is referred to as Kukulcan II).
The Itz were thus new to the scene and Tozzer wrote on the Itz:

Who were they? These people have most often been regarded as foreigners who occupied Chichen Itza dur-
ing the Tula-Toltec period and were responsible for new Chichen. The thesis here, is that we know nothing

chapter-2.indd 26 20-12-2004 14:10:10


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 27

of their origin other than that they were foreigners from Chakanputun when we rst hear of them and they
spoke the language brokenly (Tozzer 1957: 36).

To identify the Itz, again Tozzer interpreted certain passages in the Books of Chilam Balam. The re-
constructed chronology of the katun chronicles he followed, made the Itz late arrivals at Chichn Itz
(Tozzer 1957: 36-37). As Tozzer proposed, it was also from the arrival of the Itz in the Chichen III pe-
riod that the term Chichen Itza may now be properly applied to the site (Tozzer 1957: 40; emphasis in
original). In the Chichen IV period the city of Mayapn was founded by both the Itz and Kukulcan
(III). At the end of this period, the Itz were disposed by a rival Maya leader named Hunac Ceel (Tozzer
1957: 50). In the nal Chichen V period the Itz went southwards (Tozzer 1957: 58) and their history
in the central Petn is described in some detail through the work of Avedao y Loyola, Villagutierre, and
Cogolludo (Tozzer 1957: 50-60).
It was Desir Charnay who rst proposed a Toltec origin of part of Chichn Itzs architecture and
iconography, as cited in the rst chapter of this study, but Tozzers proposal was far more elaborate in
that respect. Tozzer even argued that because identical Mexican warriors are found [...] at both Tula and
Chichen, but almost no Maya appear at Tula [...] the movement was all in one direction, from west to
east (Tozzer 1957: 148). Tozzers model did not obtain a widespread acceptance, not only because of its
complexity, but also because the Mayanists of Tozzers era were justiably loath to accept the simplistic
notion that the great Chichn Itz represents the wholesale translocation of Mexican religion, architec-
ture, and culture into Yucatn (Jones 1995: 64). For the present study it is important to note that while
the Itz are part of Tozzers model (through the Chichen III period), they are not accredited with any
substantial building phase. The substantial building phases only belonged to the Maya (Chichen I) and
the Toltec-Maya (Chichen II).

Tozzers rigid distinction between Maya and Toltec was not shared by most of his contemporaries, who
preferred a more uid transition of purely Maya to Mexicanized Maya (cf. Morley 1946, 1947;
Proskouriako 1950, 1970).
Only a few years before Tozzers 1957 publication, another model was presented by J. Eric S. Thomp-
son. This British dean of Maya studies dominated the eld for over four decades (Coe 1992: 123-132)
and during that time he presented several proposals on the history of Chichn Itz and the identity of
the Itz. A rst proposal was published in 1954, and, in a second edition, in 1966 (Thompson 1966:
116-139). Again, all historical sources came to the fore and Thompson introduced his own chronological
placement of particular katun periods as described in the Books of Chilam Balam. He ventured the idea
that the Itz:

[...] were Chontal Maya who had come under strong Mexican inuence in their homeland at the bottom of
the Gulf Coast, that they invaded Yucatn and from the east coast established themselves at Chichn Itz before
the arrival of the feathered serpent cult, [...] (Thompson 1966: 119).

In this rst proposal, Thompson referred to three dierent occupational periods at Chichn Itz. The rst
period was a (Classic) Maya period that lasted to circa A.D. 889 or A.D. 909. To this period belonged the
many buildings with inscriptions. The second period was the Itz period that started in A.D. 918 and was
associated with a few buildings (like the sub-Castillo). The third period was the Toltec or Mexican period
that lasted from circa A.D. 987 to circa A.D. 1185 and to which belonged the buildings on the central

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28 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

plaza of Chichn Itz. The very specic dates given here were derived from important passages in the
Books of Chilam Balam and the chronological placements of katun periods as preferred by Thompson.
It was, however, another proposal by Thompson that was to become extremely inuential. In 1970
he published his Maya History and Religion that opened with a chapter fully dedicated to this new
proposal, now generally known as the Putun hypothesis. He introduced his new model through seven
opening points, the rst of which was:

[...] The Putun, also called Chontal Maya, were a thrusting group, strongly aected by Mexican-speaking
neighbors, whose home was in southern Campeche and in the huge delta of the Usamacinta and Grijalva rivers
of Tabasco. Their home was peripheral to the great development of the Maya Classic period, and there is little
evidence that they were abreast of the great advances in art, architecture, and astronomy of their neighbors east
and northeast of them (Thompson 1970: 3).

In his earlier proposal Thompson had tentatively identied the Itz as Chontal Maya (see above). The
name Chontal is derived from the Nhuatl (or Nwatl) gloss chontalli, which simply means foreigner
(Simon 1988 [1885]: 108, chontalli extranjero). It was also used to refer to other groups in Mexico,
such as the Chontal (a non-Mayan speaking people) of Oaxaca. Now that we know who the Putun
were, what did they do? According to Thompson, in his second point:

[...] [T]he Putun, as the seamen and the sea traders of Middle America, controlled the sea routes around the
Peninsula of Yucatan, a branch of them, called in Yucatan the Itza, established themselves in the island of
Cozumel on the opposite side of the peninsula and, crossing the channel, acquired a beachhead at Pol on the
mainland. Thence they penetrated inland, conquering a numbers of centers including Chichen Itza (A.D. 918)
(Thompson 1970: 3-4).

Here there is an important shift. While in his earlier attempt the Itz were Chontal Maya, now the
Putun (Chontal Maya) who arrived at Chichn Itz were referred to as Itz in native sources. Thompson
advanced a fourfold idea on the role of the Putun Itza in relation to Chichn Itz:

The time has come to detail the fact and interpretations on which this reconstruction of history was based. In
brief, the ideas now advanced are these:
1. Two foreign groups established themselves at Chichen Itza. First came the Itza, perhaps in A.D. 918.
They were followed by Kukulcan and his retinue about A.D. 980. Landa, it will be recalled, wrote that his
informants were uncertain whether Kukulcan came before, after, or at the same time as the Itza.
2. The Itza reached Chichen Itza from Cozumel, and the invasion route, starting at Pol, port for Cozumel,
given in the Chilam Balam of Chumayel, refers to that invasion of A.D. 918 [...].
3. The Itza are identied as Putun (Chontal Maya) by the names applied to them, Putun and Ah Nun, and
because they are closely associated with Chakanputun, Savannah of the Putun, seemingly their homeland.
Furthermore, an invasion by sea, as indicated by the starting point and by a mural at Chichen Itza, agrees with
the historical role of the Putun as seafarers.
4. Such a reconstruction of Itza arriving via Pol, on the east coast, and Kukulcan from the west, as Landa
recounts, is in agreement with the tradition of the big and little descents, as mentioned by Lizana [...]. It will
be recalled that the tradition tells of a large-scale invasion from the east, a smaller one from the west. [...]
(Thompson 1970: 11).

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 29

In an elaborate expos, Thompson further provided additional information that the Itz were Putun
and how dierent sources did underwrite his suppositions (Thompson 1970: 14-22). Based on the above
points, Thompson oered a rationale for the arrival of Kukulcan, incorporating central Mexican sources
on the ight of Quetzalcoatl from Tula and his arrival at Chichn Itz:

[...] Having established themselves at Chichen Itza and opened overland communications with their homeland
in southern Campeche, and being almost bilingual and deeply under Mexican inuence, they were ready to
receive Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan eeing from his enemies in Tula (probably A.D. 987). This second group, enter-
ing from the west, brought stronger Mexican inuences, with those of Tula dominant (Thompson 1970: 4)

These two waves of newcomers were also associated by Thompson to particular architecture and iconog-
raphy at Chichn Itz. As he suggested in one particular passage:

[...] the rst Putun Itza erected the inner Castillo at Chichen Itza which is entirely free of feathered-serpent
decoration, whereas the overwhelming Tula inuences were introduced by Kukulcan and the second lot of
the Putun Itza. The rst Putun Itza, invading from Pol, were credited with many sumptuous buildings; the
second lot probably built the outer Castillo (Thompson 1970: 24).

Thompsons new proposal, however, not only accounted for events at Chichn Itz, it also accounted for
events in the central Maya area. Either earlier or contemporary with the rst events leading up to the ar-
rival of the Putun Itza newcomers at Chichn Itz, other Putun groups entered the central Maya area.
Thompson summarized his view in two points:

[...] At a somewhat earlier date other Putun groups, probably from Potonchan at the mouth of the Grijalva
River, established a trading base at the strategic site of Altar de Sacricios, where the Pasin and Chixoy rivers
meet to form the Usamacinta (ca. A.D. 800). Even earlier (A.D. 730-50) what was probably another Putun
group won temporary control over Yaxchilan.

[...] From Altar de Sacricios the invaders, pushing farther up the Pasin, conquered Seibal (ca. A.D. 850),
an important Classic period site, and pushed on to Ucanal, almost on the British Honduras border and in the
Belize River drainage (Thompson 1970: 4).

According to Thompson, the Putun group(s) that entered these Classic sites (Seibal, Ucanal) brought
with them new ceramics (Fine Orange and Fine Gray) and were responsible for the monuments being
erected at these sites (Seibal, Ucanal). The time period (ca. A.D. 800-850) in which these groups sup-
posedly entered the central Maya area ran parallel with a dramatic event that had fascinated (and still
fascinates) students of Maya history since its very inception: the so-called collapse of the Classic Maya
centers in the Southern Maya Lowlands. Only a few years earlier, a foreign invasion was rst proposed to
have played an important part in the collapse of Classic Maya civilization (cf. Sablo and Willey 1967).
Although the invaders were not yet identied with a specic ethnic group, it was suggested that the in-
vaders came from a specic area. It was the same area that Thompson now associated with the Putun.
However, Thompson did not share the view held some years earlier:

The important point I would make, contrary to the views of Sablo and Willey (1967), is that these Putun
invaders of Seibal and Ucanal were not directly responsible for the end of the ceremonial life of the Classic

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30 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

period. For, as we have seen, the erection of stelae continued under their aegis. Moreover, texts, except for
those aberrant name glyphs, continued to be inscribed in the Classic Maya tradition. On the contrary, these
invaders kept the old ceremonial ways alive when in many other centers the old had collapsed (Thompson
1970: 42-43).

Without going into too much detail here, Thompson proposed a very comprehensive model. In this
model particular events in the Southern Maya Lowlands and the Northern Maya Lowlands came to be
explained as ultimately derived from a specic area with a specic ethnic identity (Putun) and a specic
mixed Maya and Mexican cultural background. This particular mixed cultural background provided an
explanation for new architecture and iconography, both at places like Ucanal and Seibal in the south
and Chichn Itz in the north. His model had drawn to a small extent on archaeology, but to a far larger
extent on the rich and very extensive literature of the Colonial period (Thompson 1970: 47).

The three models as summarized above draw information from a substantial amount of sources and all
three are clearly multidisciplinary in nature. Although Tozzers model did not nd a wide acceptance,
it had, and still has, a strong proponent in Michael Coe (cf. Coe 1966, 1999). Thompsons 1954-1966
model was superse ded by his 1970 model, the Putun hypothesis. It was this Putun hypothesis that
found advocates as soon as it was published and also at present has avid advocates (cf. Ball 1986; Ball
and Taschek 1989; Guenter 1999; Kowalski 1989). But also the Putun hypothesis received severe com-
ments, relative to both its particular reliance on and incorrect citation of historical sources as well as,
according to some archaeologists, its supposedly restricted application in Maya archaeology (cf. Adams
1973; Kremer 1994; Miller 1977; Proskouriako 1970).
In the years since these three proposals and the original comments were published, several new studies
have been published that contain new material or new interpretations based on the old material. In these
studies a couple of revisions took place. The most important revision that took place was, in contrast to
the dierent phases as proposed by Tozzer and Thompson, the more recent acknowledgment that the
site of Chichn Itz was a unied site with a consistent material culture. A reanalysis of the ceramics of
Chichn Itz was a rst important step (cf. Lincoln 1986, 1990), as well as a reanalysis of the iconography
and the inscriptions at the site placed within a framework of specic political and religious developments
in the whole of the Maya area (cf. Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993; Schele and Freidel 1990; Schele and
Mathews 1998). Contrary to what Tozzer and Thompson proposed, these new studies indicated that
there apparently were no clear distinguishable phases in the history of Chichn Itz. Based on recent
decipherments, the Itz were identied as inhabitants of the Southern Maya Lowlands during the Classic
period. With a reinterpretation of the dierent chronicles of the katuns in the Books of Chilam Balam
and the analysis of specic dated events in the Southern Maya Lowlands, a new chronology was posited.
This new chronology integrated chronological information from both areas into one new comprehensive
model, in which the Itz were identied as a group who ed the Southern Maya Lowlands and migrated
to the Northern Maya Lowlands to establish themselves at Chichn Itz (cf. Boot 1995d, 1996a, 1997a,
1997c, 1999e; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998). According to this new model
the Itz may have ed the central Maya area (i.e. Southern Maya Lowlands) because of an increase in
local and regional warfare. The period in which this warfare emerged is generally dened as the period in
which the collapse of Classic Maya civilization took place.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 31

2.2 A Reason to Migrate: The Classic Maya Collapse

It is generally suggested that the so-called collapse of Classic Maya civilization took place between circa
A.D. 750 and A.D. 900, when the erection of inscribed monuments and the construction of buildings
and temple mountains ceased at one site after the other (cf. Schele and Freidel 1990: 381). The cessa-
tion of monumental activity has fascinated archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians alike since the
beginning of Maya studies:

Perhaps no other question in the eld of New World archaeology has attracted as much scholarly and popular
attention as the causes of the collapse of Classic Maya civilization (Fash 1991: 173).

Taken as a whole the collapse is somewhat baing not because it happened, but because the sites were aban-
doned forever (Pettennude 1996).

Many dierent models have been posited to give an explanation of the collapse of Classic Maya civiliza-
tion. In general, the models and theories on the collapse can be placed in two categories: those models
and theories that stress internal factors and those models and theories that stress external factors (compare
to Lowe 1985: 43-111).
The internal models, as I will refer to the rst category, center around two closely related subjects:
environmental disruption and social disruption. Some models that prefer environmental disruption stress
factors as earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, and disease (compare to Folan, Faust, Lutz, and Gunn 2000).
Problematic with all these particular factors is that they are hard to detect in the archaeological record,
although earthquake damage has been noted (Hellmuth 1976: 179), as well as the eects of disease (cf.
Saul 1973; Storey 1992; Whittington and Reed 1997), and, more recently, the vestiges of prolonged
periods of drought (cf. Cecil 2001; Gill 2001; McKie 2003; Wong 2001). Even so, these models can not
account for the collapse as a whole, although some researchers make such a claim (cf. Gill 2001; compare
to Dahlin 2002 and Robichaux 2002). Other models that prefer environmental disruption are the so-
called ecological models. At the heart of these particular models is the supposition that the rise in Maya
population towards the Late and Terminal Classic period led to a severe strain on the natural environ-
ment that caused damaging and irreversible ecological changes. The importance of these kinds of models
in Maya studies can be seen in the following passage:

The consensus of the symposium [organized in 1970 with as subject the collapse] was that the internal prob-
lems, particularly related to what Culbert calls ecological overshoot and the increasing parasitic role of the
elite, were the primary causes for the social, political, and demographic collapse of the southern lowland Maya
city-states in the 9th century A.D. (Fash 1991: 173).

More recent research seems to indicate that ecological models may provide an answer to the question of
the collapse. Deforestation is central to these models (with deforestation mostly linked to agriculture,
but also in a lesser degree to lime plaster production, e.g. Adams 1996). For example, in the Copn
sustaining area there are indications that deforestation and consequently the aridity of soils (cf. Webster,
Sanders, and Van Rossum 1992: 193) eventually forced the population out of the area in a time period
of A.D. 800 to A.D. 1250 (cf. Freter 1992; compare to Freter 2004). Discontinuation of the locally
common settlement organisation as well as ceramic tradition suggests that part of this late population,
specically at Copn itself, may be of foreign origin (cf. Manahan 2004). In the Calakmul region there

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32 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

are indications that an extreme local drought around A.D. 850 might have accelerated the demise of the
city and the state it sustained and gradually forced the population out (cf. Folan et al. 1995: 330). In the
Caracol area the opposite, over-abundance of rain and consequently the washing out of silicates from the
soil, in time made the immediate surrounding region unt for cultivation (cf. Pettennude 1996). What
these three examples have in common is that the actual demise of these centers occurred centuries after
the period in which the collapse of the central authority was supposed to have taken place, as originally
indicated through the cessation of monument erection and large scale building programs. Due to the
additional lapse of time, several centuries in the case of Copn, the connection between these models
and the supposed collapse between circa A.D. 750-900 is weak. The time factor disassociates these kinds
of ecological events from the particular period of collapse characterized by the cessation of monument
erection and large scale building programs. If correct it can be concluded that if ecological factors are a
primary cause of collapse, because of the additional lapse of time, the cessation of monument erection
and large scale buildings programs can no longer be considered a prime indicator of collapse.
Social disruption is another main focus of internal models. In short, there are three basic models that
propose social disruption: a model based on a peasant revolt, a model based on a nobles revolt, and a
model based on increased warfare. Thompson was the rst to propose a peasant revolt (Thompson 1954,
in 1966: 104-108) and he thought he had found evidence of such a revolt at Piedras Negras (a throne
smashed to pieces after which the building in which it stood was burned). In this model peasants revolted
against their nobles, destroyed the seats of their masters, and then turned away into the forest to never
return. More recent is the model of a nobles revolt. In this model the nobles, lesser local and regional
lords, revolted against the high lord and took over. A scenario like this has been proposed for Copn (Fash
1991: 153-183). While both models are quite popular there is not much archaeological or epigraphic
evidence in favor of either of them (Guenter 1999: 3-5). The third basic model involves a scenario of
increased warfare. This model is primarily based on the interpretation of Late Classic iconography and
the reading of associated hieroglyphic texts. In general, after circa A.D. 600-650 more and more hiero-
glyphic texts recorded the taking (chuk-) of captives (bak), rulers and their warriors carrying the weapons
of war (u-tok, u-pakal the int[s], the shield[s]) (note 1) were brought down (hub-) or forced out (lok-)
in exile, while the palaces (i.e. elite residential structures) and rooms therein (chen?) containing their seats
or thrones were burned (pul-) and their monuments broken, literally decapitated (chak-). Many inscrip-
tions recorded war actions with the main Maya war event, nicknamed star-over-shell/earth, an event
that is still not satisfactorily deciphered (recent proposals include chay- [Zender], hay- [Boot], tzay-/tzoy-
[Lacadena], and uk- [Chinchilla]). Rulers and their operatives were entitled the guardian or caretaker
(chanul(?) or chan) of these captives, and carried titles like he of twenty captives (ah winik bak), while
certain ceremonies were performed in the company (expressed through the verb root it(a)-) of these
captives or were considered the work (-et) of the highest rulers. The captives themselves were wounded
(hatz-), inicted pain (kux-), and ultimately decapitated (chak-). Certain ceremonies and war events
were supervised (kab-) by a higher lord or king and certain lords or kings (ahaw) were considered to be
the vassal lords or kings (yahaw) of those high lords or kings (kuhul ahaw, kalomte). Many of the hiero-
glyphic texts on war events were combined with a particular war iconography that incorporated specic
costume elements derived from central Mexico, specically from Teotihuacan, and it was nicknamed by
researchers as Tlaloc Venus warfare (Schele and Freidel 1990: 146-147).
War related expressions indeed seem to gain more prominence in the Late and Terminal Classic than
in the Early Classic, especially a period of circa A.D. 650-675 in the central Petn area (see further be-
low). With an underlying premise that demographic pressures in the Late Classic resulted in increasing
warfare, this may have led local people to ee and abandon the cities forever (cf. Stuart 1993). The Itz

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 33

may have been among those population groups that migrated from the Southern Maya Lowlands (cf.
Boot 1995d, 1996a, 1997a, 1997c, 1999e; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998).
Although the particular political outcome of specic war events is known (who took whom captive, on
what date, etc.), warfare in itself can not have been a single cause to the collapse of Classic Maya civiliza-
tion. We simply do not know the motivation (political, economic, religious, or other) for most (if not all)
of these events, nor do we know on what scale these war events took place and what eect these events
had on the centers and their surrounding landscape (cf. Hassig 1992; Villela 1995; Webster 1993, 2000,
2002). A recent model of nearly perpetual antagonistic so-called super polities or patron kingdoms (cf.
Martin and Grube 1994, 1995, 2000; Grube and Martin 1998) may provide the political motivation for
certain war events between the super powers Tikal and Calakmul, as well as the lesser polities associated
with these two. Even so, as we have seen above, large populations were still present after the cessation of
monumental activity, and it were these monuments that revealed an increase in warfare related events.

The external models are more easily summarized. In these models it is foreign inuence or foreign inva-
sion that may have contributed or even directly may have led to the collapse of the Classic Maya (cf.
Sablo and Willey 1967). The most eloquent of these models, the Putun hypothesis by Thompson, has
been described above. While the proponents of these models see foreign inuences in iconography, ce-
ramic wares, and ceramic styles, opponents of foreign inuences see these particular traits as local cultural
development at the end of the Late Classic and Terminal Classic period (cf. Schele and Mathews 1998;
Stuart 1993: 339). With either invasion or dislocation to explain the collapse, again, after the cessation of
monumental activities between circa A.D. 750-900, large populations remained present.
Most scholars would probably agree that no single cause model has ever satisfactorily explained the
collapse of the Classic Maya civilization in the Late to Terminal Classic period. The collapse was prob-
ably due to a combination of dierent factors, a combination of the results of many dierent single cause
models (compare to Lowe 1985, who provides a multi-causal systems simulation of the Classic Maya
collapse). One can go even one step further: there was no collapse in the sense that the whole Southern
Maya Lowlands came to be deserted at one particular period of time. Specic regions can be recognized
that ceased monumental activities according to their own inner time table. Unfortunately, a complete
study of the collapse from a local, regional and even pan-regional perspective lies outside the scope of
the present study. Cultural, economic, and political collapse was a gradual process in which certain
specic historical events, as discussed above, all played a role. As pointed out earlier, there are indications
that large populations were still in place in the areas governed by some of the most important Classic
centers, long after the cessation of monument erection and the construction of large architectural com-
plexes (Copn, Calakmul, Caracol). While some of the areas in the Southern Maya lowlands eventually
were depopulated, other areas sustained and came to sustain large populations until the conquest by the
Spaniards in the fteenth to seventeenth century. Several of these particular areas are located in the central
Petn area. Although clear increases and decreases can be observed in population density, these areas were
continuously populated from before the collapse until the Colonial period (Chase 1990: 156, Table
7.2; Rice and Rice 1990: 129, Table 6.4) or became populated just after the collapse (Rice 1987: 235)
(cf. also Culbert 1988: 87) (see below, section 2.3.3). Further archaeological research is thus of the utmost
importance if any denitive answers are to be found to the question what might constitute collapse in
the Maya area (cf. Webster 2002).

The perspective taken here is that although collapse can be posited for the whole area, particular re-
gional areas have to be recognized within the Southern Maya Lowlands to fully appreciate not only

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34 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

what happened between circa A.D. 750 to A. D. 900, but before and after as well. The fact that several
regional areas sustained large populations after the period A.D. 750-900, which earlier supported in-
scribed monuments (stelae, altars, lintels, etc.) clearly indicates that cessation of monument erection and
large scale building programs by itself can not be the prime indicator of collapse, neither of the Classic
Maya in general nor the local central authority in specic. Particularly the process of the cessation of
erecting inscribed monuments should be reconsidered. Besides public and freestanding (stelae, altars,
thrones) and private and architecturally incorporated inscribed monuments (lintels, panels, cornices,
etc.) (in ancient times access to both public and private monuments was restricted, as a successive
line of for example corridors, rooms, hallways, plazas, and stairways indicates), there were other media
that contained hieroglyphic texts. The Maya used a large amount of materials to produce these other
media, for instance, dierent kinds of stone, bone, clay, and bark. These particular media were portable
and among these media are ceramic vessels and plates and bark paper codices. Codices have been found
in archaeological context as burial gifts, but it has not been possible yet to properly analyze the contents
of any of the extant examples (as for example at Copn, cf. Agurcia Fasquelle and Fash 1989: 483). A
codex, once in the possession of Ursa y Arizmendi, the conqueror of Tayasal, may have contained, as
he wrote, the genealogy of the kings native lord[ship] (Jones 1994b: 105). Certain codices from the
Classic period may thus also have contained genealogical information. But, without the aid of Classic or
Postclassic genealogical codices, at present ceramics are more important. The last date, associated with the
accession of a new ruler, at Palenque occurs in the hieroglyphic text on a small carved black ware ceramic
vessel (cf. Schele and Mathews 1993: 132). The scant information we currently have on the Tikal dynasty
from just before and possibly during the hiatus, when apparently no monuments were erected, comes
from ceramics of that period (e.g. Kerr No. 0772, cf. Kerr 1989: 46 & Coe 1978: Vessel 38) (note 2).
Nearly a dozen of so-called Codex Style vessels possibly record the dynasty of the Serpent Site/Site Q
(cf. Robiscek and Hales 1981: Vessel No. 121-129), in all probability referring to Calakmul. With most
monuments being severely eroded at Calakmul itself, these ceramics provide the only information on the
Early and Middle Classic rulers at this site (cf. Martin 1997; Martin and Grube 2000). However, more
recent epigraphic research provides a persuasive argument that the king lists on these vessels belonged to
a dierent kingdom, that of Middle and Late Preclassic El Mirador (cf. Guenter 2000a). Many ceramics
depict and describe the royal court, with hieroglyphic captions referring to its principal participants and
associated events (cf. Boot 2000b). Next to dynastic information to be gleaned from monuments, both
codices and ceramics may have provided this kind of information in the Classic period. As such it can be
suggested that there may have been a shift in the media used to record dynastic information, from pub-
lic and private inscribed monuments to ceramics and codices, which already were in use to record such
information. The possibility of this particular shift, in time occurring between circa A.D. 750-1000, if
correctly deduced, should be researched more, but (again) it lies outside the scope of the present study.
The monumental tradition, sometimes simply referred to as the stela cult, however, provides the
single most important source of information on the historical development of political and religious
institutions in the Southern Maya Lowlands. Through the decipherment of dated inscriptions from the
Southern Maya Lowlands it has been possible to reconstruct the dynasties that once ruled the Maya
cities. The names of kings (ahawob) and queens (ix(ik) ahawob) can now be transcribed and transliter-
ated, regular and occasional occurring events can be identied, as well as the original names of the places
where it all happened (cf. Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993; Martin and Grube 1994, 1995, 2000; Grube
and Martin 1998; Schele and Freidel 1990; Schele and Mathews 1998; Stuart and Houston 1994). The
continuous study of associated iconography has made it possible to discern the specic stages within the
gradual evolution of Maya art from the Early Classic to the Terminal Classic and Early Postclassic as well

chapter-2.indd 34 20-12-2004 14:10:12


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 35

as the development of specic local and regional styles within the general Maya area (e.g. Gendrop 1998;
Pollock 1980; Proskouriako 1950; Miller 1993, 1999; Stuart 1993).

2.3 The Origin and History of the Itza: A Reconstruction

In three separate sections information on the Itz will be presented, based on specic patterns of geo-
graphical distribution and related to specic time periods. For each period there are dierent sources of
information and each section additionally will involve the incorporation of the larger issues as discussed
above. The three sections, both in space and in time, are dened as:

the Itz and the Southern Maya Lowlands, ca. A.D. 550-900;
the Itz and the Northern Maya Lowlands, ca. A.D. 650-1450;
the Itz and the Southern Maya Lowlands, ca. A.D. 900-1700

The division of the Northern and Southern Maya Lowlands that is adopted here is based on an imaginary
line between the two areas as found in Map 2.1. Principal factors in drawing this line for the Classic
period were language (Southern Classic Maya vs. Northern Classic Maya, or [Classic] Yucatecan vs.
Cholan language areas), architectural and iconographic style, as well as the concentration of sites that
erected inscribed monuments.

Map 2.1 Maya Area: Provisional Border Between the Southern and Northern Maya Lowlands
(by the author, based on Eggebrecht and Eggebrecht 1992: Abb. 33)

chapter-2.indd 35 20-12-2004 14:10:15


36 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

2.3.1 The Itz and the Southern Maya Lowlands, ca. A.D. 550-900

The Southern Maya Lowlands contained a large number of Late Classic and Terminal Classic settlements
within a period of circa A.D. 550-900. Within this period most architectural activity takes place, speci-
cally indicative of this activity are the inscribed integrated and freestanding monuments (the so-called
stela cult) as well as a large corpus of a variety of inscribed portable objects.
A small amount of short and long hieroglyphic texts from this period in the Southern Maya Lowlands
contains references to itza and chanek/kanek. These references were rst identied by Nikolai Grube and
Linda Schele as part of epigraphic research on the signs for the syllables tza and ke. Further research by
other epigraphers substantiated their initial identications and extended and improved the original set of
examples (cf. Boot 1995d, 1996a, 1997c; Grube, personal communication, March 1995 [XIXth TMM,
Austin], March 2000 [XXIVth TMM, Austin]; Matthews 1994a; Schele and Grube 1995; Schele, Grube,
and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998; Vo 1999). Now follows an in-depth analysis of the hiero-
glyphic texts containing references to itza and chanek/kanek.

The Distribution of the Collocations Itza and Chanek/Kanek

The earliest reference to itza occurs on an Early Classic carved black ware ceramic vessel. This ceramic
vessel is of unknown provenance and currently forms part of the public collection at the Museum fr
Vlkerkunde in Berlin (cf. Gaida 1996; Schele and Mathews 1998). Vessel shape, iconographic style,
and stage of paleographic development of the hieroglyphic signs all direct to a central Southern Maya
Lowlands origin as well as a placement in the last phase of the Early Classic period (A.D. 250-550). The
vessel is elaborately carved with an iconographic narrative dedicated to a mortuary ritual (Schele and
Mathews 1998: 122-123, Fig. 3.27). The body of the ceramic vessel stands on three small pedestals and
each pedestal is inscribed with two collocations (Figure 2.1).

Figure 2.1 Kerr No. 6547: Incised Early Classic Black Ware Ceramic (drawing by Stephen Houston)

The text of in total six collocations opens with an introductory phrase spelled in three collocations as
[A] tzi-ka-ha [B] u-ha-yi [C] yu-KA?-bi for tzik-ah u-hay y-ukib venerated was (tzik-ah) the thin ves-
sel (u-hay), the drink-instrument (y-uk-ib) of ... . The next three collocations provide a reference to the
owner of this vessel through a nominal phrase and a parentage statement. The nominal phrase at position
D is written with a number of syllabic signs that at present defy a straightforward and solid identication

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 37

and subsequent transliteration (easily discerned are the syllable ni and the possible inxed bi, but the
other signs remain opaque). This nominal can also be found on the top of the trunk head of the center
tree in the complex iconography narrative on the body of the vessel (one can discern three trees in the
right hand panel of the visual narrative). This introductory phrase ending in a nominal is followed by a
parentage statement at position E that refers to the father. This collocation is spelled yu-ne for y-une(n)
(he is) the child of ... . The last collocation at position F can be transcribed [i]tza-a-AHAW for itza
ahaw, a title simply meaning itza king. If this ceramic vessel is indeed of late Early Classic manufacture,
then this is the rst collocation in the corpus of Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions that contains a sequence
of signs that can be transliterated as itza. To what does itza refer? The collocation that spells itza ahaw is
one in a common category of hieroglyphic collocations that refers to titles of origin (Stuart and Hous-
ton 1994: 33-42). In these titles ahaw refers to the position of lord, king (see Chapter 5). The part pre-
ceding the title ahaw refers to a specic location, area, or possibly a particular polity. As the Itz histori-
cally (A.D. 1525-present) were the inhabitants of the central Southern Maya Lowland area, itza has been
identied as a possible reference to the Early Classic ancestors of the Itz, serving as an ethnic marker (cf.
Boot 1995d, 1996a, 1997c; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998). However, by
itself itza is not an ethnonym in this inscription, but a simple toponymic reference to a location or area
in the Southern Maya Lowlands (in large measure, [self-]referential terms of ethnic identity are based
on provenience), in which -a may be derived from a or ha water (compare to Vo 2001: 158-159).
The part itz can be identied as a noun for leche, lgrima, sudor, resina o goma por cuajar de rboles y
de matas y de algunas yerbas with derived meanings as hechicera, brujera, encantamiento (Barrera
Vsquez et al. 1980: 271; compare to Hoing and Tesucn 1997: 255). Possibly itz may be an adjective
with the meaning enchanted. Itz or *Itzh, as Enchanted Water, may refer to any of the lakes in the
central Southern Maya Lowlands, among them the central lake, which since the early Colonial period is
known as Lake Petn Itz. Itz, however, probably referred to a larger area in which the lakes are located
(see also note 42). As this vessel has no known provenance, a precise location of the area referred to as itza
in the Early Classic currently can not be provided.

Motul de San Jos is an archaeological site only a short distance north of Lake Petn in the Southern
Maya Lowlands. Stela 1 at this site is severely eroded and only a small part of its iconography has survived
(Maler 1908-10: Plate 45). Still recognizable are large parts of the portraits of two human gures, each
in a dancing position. The gures are facing each other. Between the two gures is a two column primary
text. Only part of these hieroglyphic texts have survived erosion. No recording of a date in the Calendar
Round or Long Count survives and on the basis of its remaining iconography and paleographic quality
of its hieroglyphic texts it can be assigned to the Late Classic period (A.D. 550-900).
The surviving part of the primary text is of concern here. This part consists of two partly eroded single
column texts to be read each from top to bottom; the text is not in double column format (compare to
Stuart and Houston 1994: Fig. 28a). These texts seem to identify the two main gures portrayed on the
stela. The column on the left may refer to the left gure, the column on the right to the right gure (Fig-
ure 2.2). Of the single column text on the left only the last three collocations have survived. The rst of
these three collocations, only slightly eroded, can be transcribed [pAp2] u-EARTH-hi for u-kab-(a)h-
he supervised it (in Classic Maya earth is either chab or kab, cf. Boot 2002a: 22, 42), while the -
nal two collocations condently can be transcribed as [pAp3] HUN-TZAK-TOK followed by [pAp4]
KUH-[i]tza-AHAW for hun tzak tok kuhul itza() ahaw. Hun Tzak Tok is a personal name or epithet,
possibly meaning One (hun) Stroke (tzak) with the Flint (tok) (cf. Grube 1990d) or One or Unique
(hun) Conjured (tzak[ah]) Flint (tok). The part kuhul itza() ahaw provides a title of great importance,

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38 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

not only because it contains the second reference


to itza(), but because it is a title belonging to
the class of Emblem Glyphs (cf. Berlin 1958).
While Berlin did present a precise identication
in 1958 (with emblems referring to dynasties,
tutelary gods, or actual site names), it was Mar-
cus who argued that the Emblem Glyph served
principally as a geographic reference (Marcus
1976: 11). Later research provided further in-
dications that Emblem Glyphs functioned as
supreme hierarchical titles of rulers with some
geographical association (cf. Grube and Martin
1998; Houston 1993; Martin and Grube 2000;
Mathews and Justeson 1984; Mathews 1991;
Stuart and Houston 1994).
The Emblem Glyphs of many Classic Maya
Figure 2.2 Bottom Part of Central Text Panel, centers have been identied (Mathews 1991:
Motul de San Jos, Stela 1 (drawing by Alexander 20-21; Martin and Grube 2000: 19). An Em-
Vo) blem Glyph contains two invariable elements
that spell the title kuhul ahaw. The part ahaw
(variously written AHAW, a-AHAW-wa, AHAW-wa, or a-ha-wa) refers to lord, king while the
part currently transliterated as the adjective kuhul (the so-called water-group prex, variously spelled
KUH, KUH-lu, or KUH-HUL) refers to the godly stature of the lord, king (cf. Carlson 1988,
1989; Ringle 1989; Stuart 1988a) (see Chapter 5). The logographic value KUH for T1016 is based on a
specic syllabic substitution ku-hu (at Yaxchiln Lintel 37: C7b-D7a, an Early Classic rendition of the
phrase olis kuh), while the adjective kuhul is further supported by spellings of KUH-hu-lu at Yaxchiln
(Lintel 25: E1a & Lintel 42: E2b-F2a). For example, in colonial Yucatecan languages kuh meant god
(Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 416), as it still does in present-day Yucatec Maya (Bastarrachea, Yah Pech,
and Briceo Chel 1996: 100, as kuj; Mas Coll 2000: 25, as kuh). In the title kuhul ahaw the noun kuh
god is postxed by an -Vl sux that derives qualitative adjectives (cf. Houston, Robertson, and Rob-
ertson 2001). The qualitative adjective kuhul means god-like or god-ly, in the sense of resembling a
god, just as the adjective popol (po-po-lo) in the nominal phrase Popol Chay at Yaxchiln (e.g. H.S. 3,
Step I, Thread: D6) means mat-like or resembling a mat (pop mat, -ol adjectival sux; Wichmann,
personal communication via e-mail, August 2000; cf. Houston, Robertson, and Stuart 2001). I hesitate
to use divine or sacred or holy as a translation of kuhul, as these terms may not convey the meaning
of kuhul properly and additionally carry specic (Catholic) Christian connotations. It has to be noted
that in some present-day Tzeltal communities the adjective chul is translated as sagrado and saint, as
in chul kajwal sagrado seor and chul Tomas Saint Thomas (cf. Gmez Ramrez 1991). Also in other
Tzeltal communities the adjective chul is translated as sagrado, as in the items chul ajwalil sagrado
seor and chul preserente sagrado presidente (cf. Pitarch Ramn 1996). In this study kuhul as god-
like or god-ly is preferred. In the case of kuhul ahaw it refers to the highest title a Maya lord or king
could obtain: god-like lord or king (or lord or king who resembles a god). The Emblem Glyph
also contains a main element that varies from site to site and thus, following Berlins original assessment,
identies a particular site as well as its past or current god-like lord or king (as kuhul [toponym/polity
name] ahaw). Other high ranking titles in the inscriptions that include the qualitative adjective kuhul are

chapter-2.indd 38 20-12-2004 14:10:18


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 39

kuhul winik god-like man, kuhul mak god-like person, and kuhul itzat(?) god-like sage (cf. Boot
2002a).
In reference to the Motul de San Jos text, kuhul itza() ahaw thus identies the kuhul ahaw god-
like king of itza(). Through this title, again itz() refers to a particular geographical area, now clearly
of some political importance. Not all Maya centers (or areas) boasted kuhul ahaw titles for their highest
rulers. For example, the Emblem Glyphs of Altar de Sacricios and Xultn are never preceded by the
kuhul god-like adjective (cf. Houston 1986; Mathews 1991). Of the column on the right, which prob-
ably identied the gure on the right, only the last collocation at [pBp4] has survived which spells u-ti-
ya followed by T503-a, for ut--iy T503-a it happened (long ago) at T503-a, a particular formula
that refers to the location where the specic event took place (Stuart and Houston 1994: 8, 19-33). The
collocation T503-a has been identied as a local toponym at Motul de San Jos (Stuart and Houston
1994: 28, Fig. 28a,c-e). In an earlier study a transliteration Nalh was preferred (Boot 1997a: 6), but
the logographic value NAL for T503 recently has been questioned (Boot 1999e: 12; Stuart, Houston,
and Robertson 1999: II-44; also see Chapter 4). Thus although we do not know the event or its protago-
nist (the surviving texts do not contain a reference to the actual event and protagonist), the hieroglyphic
text indicates that it took place at Motul de San Jos itself. As Motul de San Jos has its own Emblem
Glyph (the so-called Ik Site emblem), the title kuhul itza() ahaw (an Emblem Glyph in its own
right) clearly refers to a person of a dierent geographical area. As such this text may refer to a visiting
itza() god-like lord or king named Hun Tzak Tok. Comparable recordings of visiting lords or kings are
quite abundant in the Maya area and present insight into (short and long distance) elite interaction and
participation in local events (cf. Martin and Grube 2000; Schele and Mathews 1991). The fact that this
title kuhul itza() ahaw is mentioned at Motul de San Jos may indicate that the geographic area referred
to as itza is located somewhere in the Southern Maya Lowlands, possibly, but not necessarily, in the
central part around Lake Petn. The preceding expression u-kab-h--i(y) he supervised it (long ago)
is even of greater importance, as it generally introduces the most important lord (the superordinate or
over-lord) in an inscription (cf. Grube and Martin 1998; Houston and Mathews 1985; Martin and
Grube 1994, 1995, 2000). The kuhul itza() ahaw thus acted as an over-lord for the unknown event
and protagonist, which provides additional regional importance to the toponym itza. As the most part
of the primary inscription is eroded, a more precise identication of the participants involved will be
impossible (note 3).

Besides the collocations that spell itza, several collocations have been identied that provide the nominal
phrase Kan Ek (as used in previous studies). Because the spellings of this nominal phrase use the logo-
graphs for FOUR, SERPENT, and SKY (in all lowland Maya languages either chan or kan, cf. Brown and
Wichmann 2004: 171; Dienhart 1989: 588-591; Kaufman 2003: 636-637) without a prexed phonetic
complement, chanek is also a valid transliteration. Currently I am familiar with eight collocations in the
Southern Maya Lowlands that refer to (a) Chanek/Kanek, three of which are part of hieroglyphic texts
on ceramics, the other ve occur in inscriptions that carry dates in Calendar Round format that can be
placed securely at particular Long Count positions.
Two painted ceramics, without provenance and of Late Classic manufacture (which is based on the
fact that both vessels are made in workshops applying local/regional variants of the Late Classic Nakb-
based Codex Style as well as the paleographic character of the signs used), support long hieroglyphic
primary and short secondary texts. The rim text on both ceramics is the Primary Standard Sequence
(henceforth PSS) (cf. Coe 1973), a standardized sequence of hieroglyphic signs that refers to a specic
dedication formula in which, after an introductory phrase, the treatment of the surface of the vessel, the

chapter-2.indd 39 20-12-2004 14:10:18


40 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

painting or carving of the vessel, the type of the vessel, as well as the contents and owner of the vessel
are mentioned (e.g. Boot 1997e; Grube 1990b, 1991; MacLeod 1990; Reents-Budet 1994; Houston,
Stuart, and Taube 1989) (note 4). The secondary texts (continuations of the primary texts) on both these
ceramics contain hieroglyphic collocations that spell chanek/kanek. The rst vessel (Kerr No. 4387, in
Kerr 1992: 487) has a secondary text consisting of three diagonally arranged paired collocations (Fig-
ure 2.3a). The PSS on this rst vessel is followed by a
nominal phrase that can be transliterated as kak mak
chakchok kelem -?- elkin ya(h)mo, which continues in
the rst of three diagonal columns with two colloca-
tions that can be transcribed FOUR-e-ke. The open-
ing logographic sign for the number four represented
either chan or kan in Classic Maya, a gloss as used in
many surviving Maya languages (e.g. Dienhart 1989:
776-779). The two syllabic signs e-ke can be trans-
literated as ek and in combination chanek/kanek may
provide a proper name known from colonial historical
sources, as rst suggested by Grube in 1993 (Schele and
Mathews 1998: 187 & note 10). That name is Kan
Figure 2.3 Two Unprovenanced Painted Ce- Ek, the name or hereditary title taken by consecutive
ramic Vessels: a) Kerr No. 4387, b) Kerr No. paramount rulers of the Itz of the central Petn area
4909 (drawings by Dorie Reents-Budet) during the period A.D. 1525-1697 (see section 2.3.3
below). The full nominal and titular phrase on this rst
vessel may have been Kak Mak Chakchok Kelem -?- Elkin Ya(h)mo Chanek/Kanek. The secondary
text continues with collocations spelling u-yu-lu u-CHEN?-na for u-yul, u-chen (it is) the work of the
chen of ... (note 5). This statement refers to the particular workshop in which this vessel was made, in
which yul means work and chen cave, well. In several Maya languages chen is glossed as cave, well
(e.g. Dienhart 1989: 109-110, 713), but here it may be a symbolic reference to a workshop room that is
conceived as a cave, well from which ceramic vessels originate. This particular statement is followed by
the last two collocations. The rst of these collocations can be transcribed as XUL?-WITZ AHAW-wa
for xulwitz ahaw (note 6), the second as ba-ka-ba for ba(h)kab. The item xulwitz ahaw is a possible
title of origin meaning xulwitz king, while ba(h)kab is a common title of Maya lords and kings mean-
ing First of Head (of the) World (note 7). The xulwitz ahaw title of origin is of importance here. This
Emblem Glyph has been identied in previous research, erroneously, as the Emblem Glyph of Uca-
nal (Kerr 1992: 487). Already in 1986 Stephen Houston published a short report on specic Emblem
Glyphs, in which he identied one particular collocation as the Emblem Glyph of the archaeological
site of Xultn (Houston 1986: 8-9, Figure 9). The present xulwitz ahaw collocation is clearly a member of
this set of Emblem Glyphs (no reading was suggested in Houstons 1986 publication) and may indicate
that the workshop producing this vessel belonged to a high ranking person from Xultn.
The second vessel (Kerr No. 4909, in Kerr 1994: 610) also has a PSS along the rim, followed by
a nominal phrase that continues in two diagonally written columns of four collocations each (Figure
2.3b). After the PSS follows the nominal and titular phrase Kanhal Elkin Chenba(h) Chanek/Kanek
(note 8). The nal three collocations spell SKY-na-e-ke. This is a variant of the FOUR-e-ke colloca-
tion on Kerr No. 4387 in which SKY-na substitutes for FOUR. In past research ample evidence has
been presented that in Maya writing the signs for FOUR, SKY, and SERPENT substitute freely for
each other (cf. Houston 1984; Lounsbury 1984: 169-170). In all Maya languages the glosses for four,

chapter-2.indd 40 20-12-2004 14:10:18


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 41

sky, and serpent are close homophones and in Classic Maya writing all three signs represent either
the logographic value CHAN or KAN, unless accompanied by prexed phonetic complements (e.g.
cha-SERPENT > cha-CHAN > chan, ka-SERPENT > ka-KAN > kan). The text on this second vessel
records the nominal Kanhal Elkin Chenba(h) Chanek/Kanek; as such the Chanek/Kanek names on
these two vessels do not refer to the same individual. The second column opens with u-yul u-chen (it is)
the work of the chen of ... followed by xulwitz ahaw ba(h)kab and thus provides a parallel text to the
rst vessel as analyzed above. Both painted texts seem to refer
to two dierent individuals who share a part of their name
through chanek/kanek.
Recently a new vessel has surfaced that refers to a Chanek/
Kanek. Kerr No. 8732, posted on the web by Justin Kerr
in September 2003 (with epigraphic comments by Marc
Zender), is not a painted but a carved ceramic vessel (Figure
2.4). Its PSS text refers also specically to the carving of
the vessel (as yu-lu BAT.HEAD, in which the BAT.HEAD
has a syllabic value of xu?). After the introductory PSS text
a full titular and nominal phrase can be found, namely Chak
Man Kan(?) Saku(n)winik(?) Chok A(h) Kuk Elkin Chen
Chanek/Kanek (A5-C3). This is thus yet another Chanek/ Figure 2.4 Kerr No. 8732, Unprov-
Kanek, based on a comparison of the dierent preceding titu- enanced Carved Ceramic Vessel (draw-
lar and nominal phrases. As such Kerr No. 4387, 4909, and ing by the author)
8732 seem to mention three dierent male individuals that
carry Chanek/Kanek as part of their name. On Kerr No. 8732 the text continues with a son-of-father
collocation (for which Marc Zender (n.d.) recently suggested mihin son-of-father, based on the rare
prexed mi- [as identied by Stephen Houston] to T535 and the commonly suxed -na), after which
the titular and nominal phrase Chahom A(h)mul Kuk Ak Elkin Chenba(h) can be found. Interest-
ingly, on Kerr No. 4909 there is an Kanhal Elkin Chenba(h) Chanek/Kanek; these two nominal and
titular phrases share the part Elkin Chenba(h), but based on the nominal and titular dierences these
seem to be dierent male individuals. The relatively closeness of the name phrases suggests that also this
third ceramic vessel may have come from the Xultn area, although no Emblem Glyph is contained in
its texts. If correct, at least three individuals named Chanek/Kanek lived in the Xultn region towards
the end of the Late Classic period. Although a translation of the name (or hereditary title) chanek/kanek
is not of direct importance, a translation of chanek/kanek as serpent (chan/kan) star (ek) may be pos-
sible (ek star, e.g. Dienhart 1989: 609-611). This tentative translation is provided here only to make
a connection possible to the archaeological site of Xultn and in particular its Stela 24 (Figure 2.5) and
Stela 25. On these two stelae a Late Classic ruler of Xultn is depicted. In his arms (especially clear in the
iconography of Stela 24) he holds a serpent set with star signs. Although tentatively, this serpent (for chan
or kan) with star (for ek) signs may be a possible clue to his personal name or hereditary title as chanek
or kanek (note 9).

Pusilh is a small archaeological site in the southern extreme of the Belizean Maya Mountains region.
The site itself is located between the Joventud and Pusilh rivers. The center of the site consists of a small
plaza dened by structures on all four sides. Nearly all stelae and miscellaneous sculptured stones were
found in front of Structure I, on the south side of the plaza (Joyce, Gann, Gruning, and Long 1928: Fig.
2). At Pusilh a total of 21 stelae, three zoomorphic altars, three ballcourt stones, a hieroglyphic stairway,

chapter-2.indd 41 20-12-2004 14:10:19


42 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Figure 2.5 Xultn, Stela 24: Upper Part of Stela


Showing Serpent Set with Star Signs (drawing in
Von Euw and Graham 1984: 84)

Figure 2.6 Pusilh,


Stela D: Part of Text on
Front of Stela (E6-F7)
(preliminary drawing by
Christian Prager)

and various smaller fragmented monuments were discovered (Braswell, Prager, Bill, and Schwake 2004:
334-335; Prager 2002: 20-24, Tabelle 1). The stelae at Pusilh were primarily produced between circa
9.6.17.8.18 (Stela P, C) to circa 9.11.0.0.0 (Stela H, A) (circa A.D. 570-652) (Riese 1982a: 19). Later
dates occur as well, possibly up to A.D. 798 (Braswell, Prager, Bill, and Schwake 2004: 340; Prager 2002:
Tabelle 3).
Stela D is of concern here (Figure 2.6). The stela opens at [A1-A8] with a Long Count of 9.*8.0.0.0,
5 Ahaw 3 Chen (A.D. 593). Associated with a Calendar Round date at [E9-F9] of *9.8.1.12.8, 2 Lamat
1 Sip (A.D. 595) one can nd a sequence of collocations [E1-F5], providing possible events and locations
now mostly eroded. These collocations are followed at [E6] by an u-kab(-h--i)y (u-EARTH-ya) he
supervised it (long ago)... collocation, itself followed at [F6-E7] by FOUR-e?-ke for chanek or kanek.
I identied this collocation during a Maya workshop in Brussels, in September of 1996, with the in-
scriptions of Pusilh as the subject. This identication was not previously published as the inscription of
Stela D had to be checked, particularly the glyph block that would contain the syllabic sign e. Recently
Christian Prager (December 2000 [5th EMC, Bonn]), who has prepared new drawings of the Pusilh
monuments, conrmed my original identication, after checking old photographs and the stela itself,
now housed at the British Museum in London. His most recent drawing shows the vestiges of an iguana-
like head (cf. Prager 2002: 124-125), which is one of the syllabic signs for e (compare to a recent drawing
by John Montgomery in Wanyerka 2003: Figure 47; that drawing seems to be based on an older and now
obsolete drawing by Prager). Although the possible events recorded are still unknown, from this passage
it is clear that the events were supervised by a certain Chanek/Kanek. If the epigraphic identication
is correct, this is the earliest dated reference to a person named or entitled Chanek/Kanek in any Maya

chapter-2.indd 42 20-12-2004 14:10:21


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 43

inscription. The text continues to provide a title of origin at [F7-E8] as it opens with a-?-ko and ends
in HA-a?. The title of origin would thus open with ah, the general or male agentive prex meaning he
(i.e. person) of/from ..., and possibly provided a place of origin ending in -ha water. The hieroglyphic
signs used at [F7] remain unidentied and at this time the title of origin is not helpful in determining the
home of this Chanek/Kanek character.

Two other examples of the nominal chanek/kanek occur on the western side of the Southern Maya Low-
lands at Yaxchiln, a site located next to the Usamacinta river on the Mexican side. One of the original
names of the Classic Yaxchiln territory may have been Pachan or Pakan Split or Broken Sky (formerly
Siyahchan; new transliteration based on the value PA for the T299 SPLIT logograph, as suggested in
Boot 2002c & 2004b; cf. Martin 2004). Stela 10 at this site was erected in front of Structure 39. The
stela is broken into two fragments, which led to the erosion of a substantial part of the hieroglyphic text
and associated iconography. Morley (1937-38: 577), taking the surviving collocation 18 Pop as a pos-
sible indication of a period-ending, suggested *9.16.15.0.0, *7 *Ahaw 18 Pop as the dedicatory date of
Stela 10. Additional information in style (Yaxun Balam IVs apron, cf. Tate 1992: 233) and hieroglyphic
contents (the bottom panel of the river side of the stela gives the parentage of Yaxun Balam IV) provides
additional credit to this calendrical placement. The Yaxchiln ruler mentioned is Yaxun Balam IV (note
10). This ruler was born on 9.13.17.12.10, 8 Ok 13 Yax, or August 23, A.D. 709, and he acceded to the
throne on 9.16.1.0.0, 11 Ahaw 8 Tzek, or April 20, A.D. 752 (among the monuments at Yaxchiln that
record these dates are Lintels 29-31 and Stela 11). Stela 10 thus records a date to be placed some 14 years
after his accession as *9.16.15.0.0, *7 *Ahaw 18 Pop falls on February 15, A.D. 766. The death date of
Yaxun Balam IV is still not known, but as he never carried a title higher than three katun lord or king,
his death date should fall before 9.16.17.12.10, or A.D. 768, the date of the completion of his third
katun living as king (cf. Boot 1990; Martin and Grube 2000; Mathews 1988; Tate 1992).
The river side of the stela (Figure 2.7) depicts four gures. The central gure, larger than the others,
wearing a prominent apron with serrated border and holding a long lance in the right hand, is probably
Yaxun Balam IV, the contemporary ruler of Yaxchiln. To his left and right two slightly smaller gures are
depicted, possibly high court ocials or war captains. Lacadena (personal communication, June 1996)
and Graa-Behrens (personal communication, January 1997) were the rst to identify these collocations
(cf. Boot 1997a). The gure on the left has two hieroglyphic collocations just above his head, the bottom
one of which can be transcribed SKY-na-EK for chanek/kanek. Also to the left of Yaxun Balam IV,
seated on his knees and with his left arm crossed over his chest, the fourth gure can be found. His posi-
tion, as well as the fact that he is stripped of nearly all his clothes and regalia, identies him as a captive. A
small hieroglyphic caption, above his head, provides a nominal phrase. The rst collocation can be identi-
ed as a variant of the common y-ux-ul (it is) the sculpture of ... collocation (cf. Stuart 1986a), while
the third collocation of this caption can be transcribed SKY-EK for chanek/kanek. This caption may end
in a title of origin, but too little detail remains to posit any further identication. If correct, these two cap-
tions contain the nominal Chanek/Kanek and refer to two dierent people. One may be a Yaxchiln war
captain or court ocial of Yaxun Balam IV, the other may be a regional sculptor. Now, how local were
these two individuals named Chanek/Kanek? Yaxun Balam IV had important contacts with the central
area of the Southern Maya Lowlands. Two of his wives, Ix(ik) Wak Tun (IX SIX TUN-ni) and Ix(ik)
Wak Halam Chan Ahaw (IX SIX ha[la]-ma SKY-na AHAW) came from Motul de San Jos, as they
carry the Emblem Glyph of that site in their name and title phrase (e.g. Yaxchiln Lintels 5, 15, and
38) (several epigraphers have contributed to the decipherment of the T1000a/1000b/1002ab FEMALE.
HEAD as IX, e.g. Wagner 2003). During his reign Yaxun Balam IV associated himself with several lords

chapter-2.indd 43 20-12-2004 14:10:21


44 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

of local (or regional) importance such as


the sahal, a kind of governor, named
Tilom from La Pasadita, the sahal from
Site R (location unknown), and the sah-
al of Laxtunich (location unknown).
The court ocial or military captain
named Chanek/Kanek may thus be a
lord of non-local origin, perhaps even,
because of his name, from an area to the
east of Yaxchiln, maybe even Motul de
San Jos. The text of Stela 21 indicates
that Chelt/Chelet Chan/Kan Kin-
ich Itzamnah Balam, the son of Yaxun
Balam IV and Ix(ik) Chak Chami(?),
was the guardian of a-T503-a or
ah T503-(h)a or a person (ah) from
T503-(h)a, the toponym for Motul de
San Jos (see above). Chelt/Chelet
Chan/Kan Kinich Itzamnah Balam
could only have become the guardian
of this person from Motul de San Jos
after capturing him in some kind of war
event (as is the case in many capture
and subsequent guardian statements,
e.g. chuk-ah- ah nik(?)(il) followed
later in time by u-chan(ul) ah nik(?)(il)
as used by Itzamnah Balam II of Yax-
chiln). While relationships between
Yaxchiln and Motul de San Jos rst
Figure 2.7 Yaxchiln, Stela 10, Riverside (drawing by Carolyn were friendly during the reign of Yaxun
Tate [1992: Fig. 130a]) Balam IV, only some years later during
the reign of Chelt/Chelet Chan/Kan
Kinich Itzamnah Balam these relationships seem to have cooled down (lord from Motul de San Jos
being guarded, as indicated on Yaxchiln Stela 21).

The nominal chanek/kanek also appears in the southern part of the Southern Maya Lowlands. The name
occurs twice in important text panels, placed on two stelae that form part of the iconographic and hiero-
glyphic program of Structure A-3 at Seibal. At this place only reference will be made to the hieroglyphic
phrases that contain the name chanek/kanek, as a more in-depth analysis of this particular program (both
iconography and hieroglyphic texts) is part of research to be presented further below.
The text on Stela 11 (Figure 2.8) opens [B1-A2] with a date of *9.19.19.17.19, 6 Kawak 17 Sip
(A.D. 830). This date is followed at [B2a] by the verb that is spelled HUL-li for hul- he arrived. The
next collocation at [B2b] can be transcribed TAN-na for tan center; amidst followed by the main sign
of the Seibal Emblem Glyph, a sign consisting of three stones and two wavy leaves. At present this

chapter-2.indd 44 20-12-2004 14:10:23


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 45

Figure 2.8 Seibal,


Stela 11: Upper Text
Panel (drawing by Linda
Schele)

particular main sign remains undeciphered. The text continues at [C1a] with a collocation that identi-
es the one who arrived, spelled a-NINE-HAB-ta for ah balun habtal. Note the spelling in the Seibal
Stela 12 text as a-NINE-HAB-ta-la; the HAB-ta variant seemingly is an abbreviation of HAB-ta-la.
The item habtal might be an abbreviation of *habat-al. Ah Balun Habtal is a title that contains three
parts, namely ah he (i.e. person) of ..., balun nine, and habtal of still unknown meaning. Schele and
Mathews note Tzotzil and Tzeltal abta work (cf. Schele and Mathews 1998: 179, note 5), while I would
note Tzeltal abat, siervo, sirviente (Kaufman 1972: 93; Robles U. 1966: 17; Slocum and Gerdel
1971: 115). Maybe Ah Balun Habtal means He (Person) of Nine Servants. This last suggestion may
explain the titles habtal with either lower or higher prexed numerals (in concert with the numerated ah
... bak he of [so many] captives titles). Interestingly, his arrival is watched over or supervised by some-
one else, as it is followed at [C1b] by the expression u-EARTH-hi-ya for u-kab-h--iy he supervised
it. The next collocation at [D1a] identies the supervisor with the collocation spelling FOUR-e-ke
or chanek/kanek. A possible title is recorded ([D1b] FIVE-PET-ta probably for hopet or hopet) after the
name chanek/kanek, followed at [C2a] by a so-called title of origin (cf. Stuart and Houston 1994) that
can be transcribed a-[KAN]WITZ-NAL or ah kanwitznal. This collocation identies the chanek/kanek
mentioned earlier as a person (ah, he/person of/from ...) from kanwitznal. The collocation kanwitznal
represents the original name of the Ucanal political and geographical area. Ucanal is located to the east
of Seibal. The text continues at [C2b-D2] with a possible recording of an additional arrival event (spelled
HUL?-li-ya) and provides at [E1] the Emblem Glyph of Seibal, referring back to Ah Balun Habtal.
In this opening text, the one who arrived is referred to as Ah Balun Habtal. The individual that goes by
this title is mentioned in another text on this stela, as well as on other stelae at this structure and around
Seibal. His complete title and nominal phrase may have been Ah Hun Kin Kak, Ah Balun Habtal, wa-
[tu]lu-ka-te-le, Kuhul Seibal Ahaw, as recorded on Stela 10 (A4-A7). In translation his name may
have read He of One Day Fire, He of Nine Works (?), wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le (see below), God-like King of
Seibal. What the inscription on Stela 11 makes clear is that this individual specically arrived. His arrival
was supervised by a certain Chanek or Kanek Hopet, a lord from Ucanal, as identied through his title
of origin (ah kanwitznal). Ucanal is a site located in the eastern part of the Southern Maya Lowlands, to
the south of Xultn, in the vicinity of Naranjo and Caracol. This Chanek/Kanek lord is not the high
lord or king of Ucanal, as he does not carry the kuhul ahaw god-like king title, only deserved for the
king of a Classic Maya site.
At Seibal there is another example of the name Chanek/Kanek. The inscription of Stela 10 (Figure
2.9) opens with the period-ending date *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849), followed by u-
ONE-TAL-la wi-WINIK.HAB for u-hun-tal katun (it is) his rst ordinal katun (or period of twenty
tuns). Then follows a verb associated with period-ending dates, namely u-CHOK?-ko-wa for u-chok-
ow- he scattered it. On many occasions this verb collocation is associated with the noun chah (cf.

chapter-2.indd 45 20-12-2004 14:10:24


46 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Love 1987a), which means gota de cualquier licor o


resina de rbol (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 121).
As such chah drops were scattered in these period-
endings events. As seen above, then the complete title
and nominal phrase of Ah Balun Habtal is recorded.
After the Emblem Glyph for Seibal, another verb
can be identied at [B7] IL-la-a for il-a(h)- it was
seen by ... . The event seen, or better witnessed, was
the scattering event related to the period-ending at
*10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab. This event was seen
or witnessed by three high ranking individuals, each
mentioned by name and an Emblem Glyph. The
names and Emblem Glyphs are recorded as [A8-B8]
HUN?-?-KAWIL-li KUH-MUT-AHAW for hun
? kawil kuhul mut(al) ahaw, [A9-B9] FOUR-PET?-
te KUH-ka-SERPENT-AHAW for chanpet/kanpet
kuhul kan(al) ahaw, and [A10-B10] FOUR-e-ke
KUH-MOTUL.DE.SAN.JOSE-AHAW for chanek/
kanek kuhul Motul de San Jos ahaw. The rst
name and Emblem Glyph refer to the contemporary
king from the site of Mutal. This specic Emblem
Glyph in many inscriptions refers to the site of Ti-
kal as well as Dos Pilas (cf. Houston 1993; Houston
and Mathews 1985; Martin and Grube 2000; Stuart
n.d.c). At present I concur with the most recent in-
terpretation that in this case Mutal refers to the site
of Tikal itself, naming one of its last kings (Martin
and Grube 2000: 52, 53). Previously the Mutal Em-
blem Glyph has been identied as Ixl (Schele and
Mathews 1998: 185-187), situated south of Tikal on
the eastern end of Lake Petn. Also Jimbal would be
Figure 2.9 Seibal, Stela 10: Bottom Part of possible, a site located north of Tikal, close to Uaxac-
Left Text Panel (drawing by Linda Schele) tn. The Ixl Altar 1 inscription contains the Mutal
Emblem Glyph and has a near contemporary date of
*10.2.10.0.0, 3 Ahaw 13 Chen (A.D. 879). Ixl Stela records the date *10.0.19.4.11, 9 Chuwen 14 Sip
(A.D. 849), but no name, Emblem Glyph, or event survives (Schele and Grube 1995: 187). The text
on Jimbal Stela 2 also has a Mutal Emblem Glyph and is dated to *10.3.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 3 Yaxkin (A.D.
889). The second name and Emblem Glyph refer to the contemporary king from the site of Calakmul
(ka-SERPENT(-la) > ka-KAN(-la) > kanal > Calakmul?) named Chanpet or Kanpet. The third name
and Emblem Glyph refer to the contemporary king of Motul de San Jos whose name is Chanek/
Kanek. This particular occurrence may support the above identication of a Chanek/Kanek from the
Motul de San Jos area as mentioned at Yaxchiln.

At present Seibal Stela 10 is the latest dated monument that contains a reference to Chanek/Kanek in
the Southern Maya Lowlands. In previous research (cf. Boot 1995d, 1996a, 1997c, 1997d), the idea was

chapter-2.indd 46 20-12-2004 14:10:25


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 47

Map 2.2 Geographical Distribution of itza and chanek/kanek (by the author, based on
Eggebrecht and Eggebrecht 1992: Abb. 33)

chapter-2.indd 47 20-12-2004 14:10:28


48 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Map 2.3 The Itz Territories prior to the Conquest of 1697 (by the author, based on Grant 1992: Fig. 2)

ventured that there was a particular restricted geographical distribution of the itza and chanek/kanek col-
locations. The geographical distribution of itza and chanek/kanek can be found in two maps.
The location of the examples of itza and chanek/kanek are presented in Map 2.2, with the exception
of the itza ahaw mentioned in the text of the Early Classic black ware ceramic, which currently has no
known provenience other than central Petn. The three examples of chanek/kanek associated with the
Xultn Emblem Glyph have been allocated to the site of Xultn. Although these three ceramics lack
provenance, their hieroglyphic texts through the Emblem Glyph and style clearly direct to the area in
which Xultn is located. It is also at Xultn that a ruler carries a serpent set with star signs, possibly in-
dicative of the nominal phrase or hereditary title chanek/kanek serpent star. The location of the Itz ter-
ritory on the eve of the nal conquest in A.D. 1697 is presented in Map 2.3, based on the reconstruction
as proposed by Jones (1991: Fig. 2, cf. Boot 1997a: Fig. 4). In this map the Itz territories are clearly cen-
tered around Lake Petn Itz. From these two maps two provisional conclusions can be drawn. The rst
provisional conclusion is, that the area covered by the examples of chanek/kanek in Classic Maya texts
is also the area in which one example of itza has been found. At Motul de San Jos the title kuhul itza
ahaw can be found, while at Seibal a lord from Motul de San Jos is mentioned who goes by the name
(or hereditary title) of chanek/kanek. The second provisional conclusion is, that the Classic Maya area
covered by itza and chanek/kanek, that is, the area between the outer points (Yaxchiln-Pusilh-Xultn),
clearly incorporates the later smaller Itz territories centered around the lake at the end of the seventeenth
century. This overlap is intriguing. However, at this moment it is not possible yet to reiterate my earlier

chapter-2.indd 48 20-12-2004 14:10:31


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 49

position, that there is indeed clear evidence for a Classic Itz territory around Lake Petn as reconstructed
in earlier research (cf. Boot 1995d: 337). To substantiate that particular claim, more epigraphic examples
are needed that refer to itza and chanek/kanek. Maybe then a more reliable link can be posited between
Classic itza and the historical Itz.

The Analysis of a Regional Iconographic Complex: Machaquil-Seibal-Ucanal

While the epigraphic evidence may not be conclusive yet, there is a large amount of monuments from
a specic area that is associated directly or indirectly with the examples of itza and chanek/kanek. It is
through the analysis of a particular iconographic complex, which follows below, that a more concise area
can be identied that possibly was either Classic Itz or closely associated with the Classic Itz (with Itz
to refer to people from a region named itza). The sites of importance in this scenario are, in alphabetical
order, Dos Pilas, Machaquil, Motul de San Jos, Panhale, Seibal, Ucanal, and Xultn. The following
analysis also includes a detailed discussion of the hieroglyphic texts on these monuments.

Machaquil is a small Late Classic Maya site. The importance of Machaquil in the southern part of the
Southern Maya Lowlands has been noted in previous research:

Machaquil is located in a strategic position in hilly country overlooking the river of the same name that ows
from southern Belize, joining the Pasion not far below Tres Islas. The city seems to have been well protected
from direct attack, and may have served as a trading center for merchants, linking the Peten with the east coast
of the Yucatan Peninsula. This is suggested by the fact that the most prosperous period of the city began after
the destruction of the cities along the Usamacinta [...] (Proskouriako 1993: 181).

Currently 19 stelae are known from this site, erected by its kings between *9.14.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw *13 *Muwan
(A.D. 711) until *10.0.10.0.0, 6 Ahaw 8 Pop (A.D. 840). All stelae have been planted around a quatrefoil
shaped depression in one of the plazas at Machaquil (cf. Graham 1967: Fig. 34). To my knowledge no
other Maya site has such a plaza feature. Only 12 stelae have survived with sucient epigraphic detail to
provide an analysis of local aairs. The surviving inscriptions at Machaquil have been the subject of a few
essays (cf. Fahsen 1983; Proskouriako 1973; Riese 1988a, 1988b). The stelae sequence at Machaquil
can be divided in two parts. The rst part consists of stelae 13, 10, 11, and 12 and clearly stands in the
Classic Maya style. Stela 13 (Graham 1967: Fig. 66-67) is dedicated to the katun-ending at *9.14.0.0.0,
6 Ahaw *13 *Muwan (A.D. 711), the large 6 Ahaw glyph testies to such a calendrical placement. Not
much of the hieroglyphic text that encircles the 6 Ahaw glyph has survived the many centuries of ero-
sion and remains without decipherment. Below the 6 Ahaw glyph one can nd the frontal image of the
animated or zoomorphic rendition of the glyph for witz hill, mountain.
Just enough detail in the hieroglyphic text on Stela 10 (Figure 2.10) remains to posit a katun-ending
dedicatory date of *9.15.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 13 Yax (A.D. 731). The contemporary ruler is depicted dancing,
indicated by the slightly lifted ankle of his left foot (for the viewer, the right foot) (cf. Grube 1990c,
1992; Miller 1981). In his right hand he holds a sta with the depiction of the god Kawil, of whom
the large protruding celt of the forehead is still visible (recently a travertine scepter [Kerr No. 8676] has
come to light in the form of a Kawil sta, cf. Miller and Martin 2004: Plate 3). The ruler is dressed
in Classic Maya costume in which uid lines dene the sandals on his feet, the curving of his legs, the
apron and belt assemblage, the position of the arms, the kind of cape that covers his shoulders as well

chapter-2.indd 49 20-12-2004 14:10:31


50 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

as the collar of round beads. His face, although largely


eroded, has the Classic Maya appearance of a high fore-
head, prominent nose, curved lips and round chin. The
rulers head is adorned with an elaborate headdress, in
which through the outlines the head of the god Chak
still can be recognized. The top of the headdress is well-
adorned with feathers, which hang to the back and fall
on his left shoulder. A long hieroglyphic texts runs down
to the left of the dancing ruler, but the detail that has sur-
vived erosion seems only to provide some general titles,
such as the Machaquil Emblem Glyph at A9 and the
title ba(h)kab at B10. The ruler is placed upon a qua-
trefoil shaped cartouche, the iconographic rendition of
the actual quatrefoil shaped form of the sunken plaza at
Machaquil itself (Grube and Schele 1990: 2, Figs. 2-3;
Stuart and Houston 1994: 33, Figs. 37-38). The center
of this quatrefoil seems to contain the cephalomorphic
variant of the T501var HA water sign.
Stela 11 is the rst stela that contains a complete sur-
viving hieroglyphic text (Figure 2.11). It opens with the
Initial Series Introductory Glyph (A1-B1) and the patron
for the month Mol and is followed at [A2-A4a] by the
date 9.15.10.0.0, 3 Ahaw 3 Mol (A.D. 741). The text
continues with the recording of the event at [A4b] u-
tza[pa]-wa-TUN-ni for u-tzap-aw-tun or he planted
stone, a dedicatory expression referring to the erection Figure 2.10 Machaquil, Stela 10 (drawing
(tzap-) of the stela itself (in this text simply referred to as by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 61])
tun stone, in other texts as lakamtun large or banner
stone, cf. Stuart 1996). After this dedicatory expression
follows the name of the contemporary ruler, whose nominal opens with Yax Pasah Chan/Kan Ahaw
King Who First Opened Up the Sky ([B4a] YAX PAS FOUR AHAW) (compare to Yax Pasah Chan/
Kan Yopat nominal phrase at Copn, cf. Lounsbury 1989: Figs. 6.1-6.13) and whose nominal phrase
ends in Etznab Chak ([B4b] DAY.SIGN:ETZNAB/FLINT CHAK-ki). He is the guardian ([A5a1]
u-SERPENT-na for u-chan) of a lord ([A5a2] recorded as AHAW, with an eroded inx possible denot-
ing his place of origin) and he carries the Emblem Glyph or kuhul ahaw title of Machaquil (A5b).
The variable element that identies the original name of the political and geographical territory of Ma-
chaquil is still not deciphered (the same element identies the Tres Islas Emblem Glyph, cf. Mathews
1991: Fig. 2.2). After his name and title phrase follows an extensive parentage statement. Yax Pasah
Chan/Kan Ahaw Etznab Chak is the son ([B5a] u-ba-hi u-ONE-TAN-na for u-bah u-hun-tan (he
is) the image of the cherished one of ...) of a certain lady named Ix(ik) Yax Pach Kuk ([B5b]] IX YAX
pa-chi KUK) and she carries, as detailed at [A6a], the important title of Ix(ik) Ah Kuhun or Lady
Worshipper(?) (note 11). Then follows the second part of the parentage statement. He is the son ([A6b]
u-si-hi u-chi-ti CHAB-ba for u-sih u-chit-chab (he is) the gift, the father-creation of ...) of a certain
Siyah Kin Chak ([B6a] SIYAH?.KIN CHAK-ki), who is also identied at [B6b] as a kuhul ahaw of
Machaquil (note 12). As Yax Pasah Chan/Kan Ahaw Etznab Chak is the contemporary ruler of Macha-

chapter-2.indd 50 20-12-2004 14:10:32


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 51

quil, it can be concluded that his father Siyah Kin Chak,


because he also carried the kuhul ahaw title of Machaquil,
probably was his predecessor. The next stela to be erected
was Stela 12 (Graham 1967: Figs. 64-65). The stela is large-
ly eroded, but the portrait of the ruler is still recognizable.
His legs are spread in Classic Maya fashion, his apron is at-
tached with a small belt assemblage. His body posture again
directs to an act of dancing. From his belt assemblage hangs
a jaguar skin that covers his waist. Around his neck he has
an elaborate collar made of dozens of round beads and a
simple bar pendant. His face is completely eroded, but the
very elaborate headdress survives in great detail. It towers
high above his head, contains the side view of Chak and is
abundantly set with feathers. A small jaguars tail can still be
recognized in the top of the headdress. In his arms the ruler
carries a ceremonial bar, clearly set with the mat pattern as
found all over the Maya area. The bar is placed diagonally
over his lower body and on the left side of the viewer large
volutes can still be discerned, emerging from one side of
the serpent bar. These were once the opened jaws of the
emerging serpent. In the open jaws of the serpent the small
gure of Kawil can still be recognized. Not much survives
of the hieroglyphic text, but enough detail can be found to
recognize part of the month name (Sip), one dot (possibly
two) of the original coecient for the month name, as well
as the recording of the tan lam(-aw) half-period expression
(cf. Wichmann 2002a) (note 13), providing sucient detail
to reconstruct the date as *9.16.10.0.0, *1 *Ahaw *3 Sip
(A.D. 761).
The four stelae discussed here describe a typical local
Maya iconographic and hieroglyphic tradition that fully
embraces the Late Classic Maya template or paradigm of
stela erection at specic time intervals, monument dedi-
Figure 2.11 Machaquil, Stela 11 cation and identication, the depiction of the associated
(drawing by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. events and ceremonies, and the association of the monu-
63]) ments to a larger architectural setting. As Miller wrote:

Of all Mesoamerican art and architecture, that of the Late Classic Maya has long been most esteemed. Even
before the travels of John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood brought the great temple pyramids and
stone carvings to public attention in the 1840s, Alexander von Humboldt had remarked upon the naturalism
of much Maya imagery, and students of ancient art had praised the ability of the ancient Maya to draw the
human gure. Late Classic Maya art is undoubtedly very human, and the attention to the individual, whether
in the courtly Bonampak paintings or the solemn, three-dimensional stelae of Copan, has always attracted the
modern, western viewer. [...] (Miller 1986: 123).

chapter-2.indd 51 20-12-2004 14:10:34


52 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Some of the most elaborate examples of this Late Classic Maya style can be found in the iconography of
Kinich Hanab Pakals sarcophagus lid at the Temple of the Inscriptions (Palenque), the elaborate central
scenes involving the accession of Kinich Kan Balam II in the tablets of the Cross Group (Palenque), the
polychrome murals depicting scenes of war and scenes of jubilant celebration around the central gure
of Yahaw Chan/Kan Muwan (Bonampak), the balanced combination of text and image in the stelae and
lintels program during the reign of Yaxun Balam IV (Yaxchiln), and the elaborately detailed life size
three-dimensional stelae of Waxaklahun Ubah Kawil and Yax Pasah Chan/Kan Yopat (Copn). While
these examples in total give body to what is generally perceived as Late Classic Maya iconography, each
site and each region had its own particular local variant. Many, if not all, long-time students of Maya
art would recognize specic examples of iconography and hieroglyphic inscriptions to be clearly from
Palenque, from Yaxchiln, or from Copn. Only these particular three sites are mentioned, because
within Maya archaeology these three sites contain some of the largest well-preserved assemblages of Late
Classic Maya style monuments and architecture. Each site is representative of a specic local and regional
style variant within the total body of Late Classic Maya style (cf. Miller 1993; Stuart 1993). Machaquil,
with its small but important corpus of inscribed monuments, also represents such a local variant.
After the four stelae discussed above, conforming to the Late Classic Maya style, the record at Macha-
quil falls silent for about forty years. This period of silence may be due to the fact that during the pe-
riod of circa A.D. 760-800 several of the major polities within the Ro Pasin-Petexbatn region, north-
west of Machaquil, fell victim to increased warfare. The period A.D. 760-800 did see the fall and nal
abandonment of Dos Pilas, Aguateca, and several other sites (cf. Demarest 1996; Demarest et al. 1996;
Houston 1993). The rst stela to be erected at Machaquil after the forty year interruption is Stela 2. In
style, this stela is quite dierent from the earlier series and it is very close to the powerful and detailed
iconography on three stelae from the reign of the second Dos Pilas ruler named Itzamnah Kawil, dating
to the period 9.14.0.0.0 to 9.14.10.0.0 or A.D. 711-721 (Dos Pilas Stelae 11, 14 & 15, cf. Houston
1993: Figs. 3-24, 3-25, 3-27) (Figure 2.12 & 2.13). On these stelae ruler Itzamnah Kawil is portrayed
in an elaborate costume dened by a prominent apron with the depiction of the so-called God C or tzuk
head, a complex belt assemblage with multiple human heads with attached hanging plaques, large mosaic
pectorals set with knots on the outside and anthropomorphic faces in the center, elegant collars to which
the pectorals may have been attached, as well as huge headdresses and intricately detailed facial masks. In
all three examples the ruler holds a sta in the form of the god Kawil in his right hand and a shield in his
left hand. In all three examples his hair is tied in a pony-tail that falls on his back. On Dos Pilas Stela 14
and 15 he clearly wears the mask of the so-called Water Lily Serpent (note 14). Somewhat later in time,
associated with subsequent Dos Pilas-Aguateca rulers but in the same style, are Aguateca Stelae 3 and 7,
with dedicatory dates of 9.15.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 13 Yax (A.D. 731) and *9.18.0.0.0, 11 Ahaw 18 Mak (A.D.
790) respectively (cf. Graham 1967: Figs. 9 & 17).
It thus may be no surprise that the rst stela (numbered Stela 2) erected after the interruption is
sculpted in an important and once prominent style from an area just northwest of Machaquil itself
(Figure 2.14). In a side text (not illustrated) Stela 2 provides the date *9.18.9.3.3, 12 Akbal 16 Kankin
(A.D. 799) or *9.18.9.15.10, 12 Ok 18 Mol (A.D. 800) (cf. Schele and Grube 1995: 166-167), associ-
ated with an accession event spelled KAL?-ha-HUN tu?-ba-hi for kal-ah--hun t-u-bah received was
(the) headband on his image (or head). The nominal phrase that follows contains the partly eroded title
sequence OCH-KIN-ni AX.WIELDING.CHAK-TE ba-ka-ba for ochkin kalomte ba(h)kab. The
newly acceded ruler is only referred to by his titles. The text on the front of the stela opens at [A1-B1]
with the date *9.18.10.7.5, 12 Chikchan 13 Kumkuh (A.D. 801), which then refers back at [A2-A3]
through a period-ending event at *9.18.10.0.0, 10 Ahaw 8 Sak (A.D. 800), which is followed at [B3]

chapter-2.indd 52 20-12-2004 14:10:34


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 53

Figure 2.12 Dos Pilas, Stelae 11 and 14 (drawings by Stephen Figure 2.13 Dos Pilas,
Houston) Stela 15 (drawing by
Stephen Houston)

by the [TAN]LAM-wa or tan-lam-aw half-period ending expression. After the half-period ending fol-
lows again the sequence of titles that refers to the Machaquil ruler, now recorded as Ochkin Kalomt
([A4-B4] OCH-KIN-ni ka-AX.WIELDING.CHAK-TE). Kalomte is an important title referring to
the paramount position taken by kings of several important Maya centers (see Chapter 3, note 19;
Chapter 5, section 5.2; Appendix B, note 8). For example, in the Late Classic period the kings of Tikal
not only acceded to the position of ahaw, they also specically acceded to the position of kalomte (e.g.
Tikal Stela 22: B11-A12) (see Chapter 5). At Machaquil this title is associated with the west (ochkin),
a common combination. His nominal phrase continues in the short text on the lower right at [C1] with
the title a-FIVE-BAK-ki for ah ho bak he of ve captives. This kind of title is known from other
parts of the Maya area and records the amount of captives a ruler is supposed to have taken in battle. In
this case the title records the capture of ve (ho) captives (bak). After this title the Emblem Glyph of
Machaquil follows (C2), indicating that the one to which the title refers, indeed is the kuhul ahaw or
god-like king of Machaquil. The last two collocations at [C3-C4] record a title only known at Ma-

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54 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

chaquil and Naj Tunich, namely EIGHT-TWENTY-ki ba-ka-ba for 28 ba(h)kabs (note 15). The
28 ba(h)kabs title is not used by the Machaquil kings from before the 30 year interruption. One of
the side texts also provides the *9.19.0.0.0, 9 Ahaw 18 Mol (A.D. 810) katun ending date, celebrated by
Ochkin Kalomt. The ruler is depicted as the central gure in the design on the front of the stela. His
legs are turned outwards and his feet and lower legs are in part covered by some kind of footwear. While
more static, this posture again is indicative of dancing. His apron is particularly interesting. Straight lines
and sharp angles dene its borders and the common God C or tzuk head is only rudimentary depicted,
when compared to earlier examples at Dos Pilas (Stelae 11, 14, and 15). The apron ends in a mat symbol
with attached curls and feathers. The apron itself is attached to an elaborate belt assemblage with cross
motifs and small human heads from which small plaques dangle. Around his neck hangs an elaborate
collar of round beads, while on his chest a very prominent pectoral with knots on both ends is placed, at
the center of which a small human head can be found. On his left arm a small shield can be found with
the frontal image of the so-called Bearded Jaguar God (a.k.a. Lord of Number Seven and GIII, one of
the Palenque Triad Gods), particularly indicative of which are the cruller between the large oval eyes,
the jaguar ears, and the beard-like element around his mouth. In his right hand he holds a sta dened
by the image of the god Kawil, diagnostic of whom are the smoke scrolls and protruding torch from the
forehead as well as the leg turning into a serpent. The rulers face is depicted from the side, as common
in Late Classic Maya art. His face is covered by a mask (now depicted in X-ray fashion) that represents
the so-called Water Lily Serpent (compare to Dos Pilas Stela 11, 14 & 15; Aguateca Stela 7) (note 16).
His hair is long and falls around the ear are onto his shoulders. The headdress he wears is massive. It is
dened by a depiction of a Chak deity head, above which a small shield-like object with the head of the
Jester God can be found. Visible from the side, a comparable shield-like object is placed on the front of
the headdress. From its center protrudes a small hand wielding a int ax set with feathers. The headdress
itself is elaborately set with feathers falling to the back of the depicted ruler, while smaller knots, ow-
ers, and paper strips provide a detailed nishing touch. To the lower left of the central gure a smaller
human being is depicted. His headdress is formed by a heron swallowing a small sh, while in his right
hand he holds a glyph, spelling SEVEN-IK-KAN for huk ik kan, tentatively to be translated as Seven
Black Seat, the name of an important mythological location (Schele and Mathews 1998: 166-167; e.g.
Caracol Stela 6, back: basal panel; Tzum Stela 3, front). The gure seemingly has crossed his left arm over
his chest, as his left hand can be found depicted appearing just over his right shoulder. He wears a skirt
made of a wrap-around jaguar skin of which the head and tail are still clearly visible. To the lower right
the head of a muwan bird (an owl-like bird species) can be found, placed within a cartouche and attached
to a string of small beads that connects it to the belt assemblage.
While still in a regional Late Classic Maya style, as earlier employed at Dos Pilas and Aguateca, this
stela deviates in certain iconographic elements. Especially the style of the apron becomes typical of the
local Machaquil style on later stelae. The apron is clearly much more narrow than the earlier examples.
Also the body posture and its proportions have changed. This particular deviation continues on Stela 3
(Figure 2.15). The hieroglyphic text on Machaquil Stela 3 opens at [A1] with a date of *9.19.4.14.1, 9
Imix 14 Sotz (A.D. 815), followed by an accession expression at [A2], namely KAL?-HUN-na u-ba-hi
or kal- hun u-bah for he wraps (the) headband on his image or head. It is followed by the nominal
phrase of the new ruler at [B1] spelled SIYAH?.KIN-ni-CHAK-ki for the name Siyah Kin Chak. He
is thus a name sake of an earlier ruler at Machaquil (cf. Stela 11). After his nominal phrase there follows
at [C1a] a very important title. It contains the crossed bundles-TE-NAH collocation, an expression
that refers to a specic structure (nah) of great importance in the foundation of ruling lineages (cf.
Schele 1990). The crossed bundles may depict bundles made of wood (te) to be burned in a specic

chapter-2.indd 54 20-12-2004 14:10:38


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 55

Figure 2.14 Machaquil, Stela 2 (drawing by Ian Figure 2.15 Machaquil, Stela 3 (drawing by Ian
Graham [1967: Fig. 44]) Graham [1967: Fig. 49])

re ceremony and this structure seems to be linked to central Mexico, Teotihuacan in specic (cf. Taube
2000). Fire ceremonies are known to be of special importance in central Mexico in taking possession of
new territory and the election of the founder (Ixtlilxchitl 1985, vol. 1: 259; see Chapter 3 & 5). Here
this particular collocation is followed at [C1b] by another collocation spelled pi-tzi-li for the title pitzil
or ballplayer (cf. Stuart 1987). Siyah Kin Chak is thus a crossed bundles te nah ballplayer, meaning
that his ballplayer title is linked to the cross bundle te nah. It can not be simply surmised from this text
that Siyah Kin Chak is a founder of a new intruding lineage, as recently suggested by Guenter (1999:
34, note 15). The crossed bundles te nah does refer to the structure, but here it simply seems to modify
the kind of ballplayer Siyah Chak is, namely a crossed bundles te nah ballplayer (note that the Early
Classic mural at La Sufricaya combines Teotihuacan warriors/ambassadors with Maya ballplayers [cf.
Estrada-Belli 2003, 2004, n.d.]; perhaps this title is related to this kind of phenomenon). The pitzil title
can be found modied at other Maya sites. For example, at Yaxchiln there is a common title ba(h)te
pitzil, while at Tonin yahawte pitzil can be found (cf. Boot 1997h). The next four collocations seem to
provide a verb and three titles referring to the subject. At position [D1a] one can nd YAX-RECEIVE-wi
for yax-cham-aw rst (time) received. The collocation at [D1b] spells YOP?-AT-ti for yopat, probably
the name of a Classic Maya deity (compare to Looper 2003: 4-5). The last two collocations at [E1] pro-

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56 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

vide the Emblem Glyph or kuhul ahaw title of Machaquil and ka-KAL-ma-TE, a variant spelling for
kalomte. This phrase refers back to the subject of the rst and main clause, Siyah Kin Chak.
The text continues at [F1] with a distance number of 19 kins and 3 winals, leading at [F2-F3a] to
the dedicatory date *9.19.5.0.0, 2 Ahaw 13 Yaxkin (AD. 815), followed at [F3b] by an expression for
the ending of the tun period by Siyah Chak, again entitled crossed-bundles te nah pitzil (F4-F5) and
kuhul ahaw of Machaquil (H1a). A second distance number at [H1b] of 11 winals (and 0 kins) leads to
another date recorded at [H2-H3a] as *9.19.5.11.0, 1 Ahaw 13 Kumkuh (A.D. 816) for an il- see/wit-
ness (H3b) event associated with the previous nah ho tun or rst ve tun period event (at *9.19.5.0.0)
(H4). The ruler Siyah Kin Chak is the gure depicted on the stela. His posture (dancing) and costume is
largely similar to the costume on Stela 2, but now the proportions of the body of the standing ruler have
dramatically changed, especially the length of his legs, the measure of his waist as well as the position of
his arms (compare to Dos Pilas Stela 11). While he holds no shield on his left arm, he does carry a sta
of the god Kawil in his right hand. His face is slightly less in Late Classic style (note chin indentation).
Like the ruler on Stela 2, Siyah Kin Chak wears the mask of the Water Lily Serpent. His headdress is
very elaborate. Important to note is the headband set with a depiction of the Jester God and dened by
square elements (compare to Aguateca Stela 7, dated to *9.18.0.0.0, or A.D. 790). An actual Jester God
(or sakhunal) gure and associated small square stone plates of the headband were recently excavated at
Aguateca (cf. Eberl and Inomata 2001). Also note the shell-like element with small curl above the ower-
ing water lily, possibly an early rendition of a reptilian or orphidian entity here nicknamed the Shell Wing
Dragon (see below). His hair is visible above and below the headband and it falls around his ear are onto
his shoulders. Above the headband the towering headdress itself can be found. On its front a giant water
lily ower is placed to which a small nibbling sh is attached. Abundant feathers, owers, and a jaguars
tail complete the headdress.

Stela 4 (Figure 2.16) has a short hieroglyphic inscription. It opens at [A1] with a date of *9.19.10.0.0,
8 Ahaw 8 Xul (A.D. 820), a half-period ending (A2a). A distance number of 12 winals and 0 kins at
[A2b-A4] connects it to the date [B1] *9.19.10.12.0, 1 Ahaw 8 Kumkuh (A.D. 821) and a [B2] period-
ending ceremony (kal- tun to wrap stone). The text ends at [B3-B4] with the name Siyah Kin Chak
and the Machaquil Emblem Glyph. The ruler is depicted in a common posture indicative of dancing.
He stands on top of the quatrefoil shaped cartouche with central water motif (T501var HA), possibly
again a stylized rendition of the sunken court plaza at Machaquil itself (compare to Machaquil Stela 10,
above) (note 17). His apron now contains only the rudimentary portrait of the God C head (only a small
mouth with teeth is visible). His belt assemblage is simple, with one central human head with attached
hanging plaques covering the apron. From below his belt assemblage falls a jaguars skin skirt. A promi-
nent pendant hangs over his chest while his collar is again made of a multitude of round beads. In his
right hand he holds the Kawil sta. From his nose a stylized rendition of the Water Lily Mask protrudes,
dened by the square lines and two small tubes with small attached beads. His headdress again is elabo-
rate and abundantly set with feathers. Again he wears a headband of square elements set with the image
of the Jester God. His hair is long and falls around his ear are on his shoulders. The top of the headdress
is set with a small animal, set with a cut shell-wing and a jaguars tail. It is a creature Proskouriako refers
to as snail-like and which she correctly associates with Dos Pilas, where it occurs in the inscriptions
(Proskouriako 1993: 176). At Dos Pilas this creature, the Shell Wing Dragon, seems to refer to the
original name of the center of Dos Pilas (e.g. Dos Pilas Stela 14: G2 & Stela 15: F6) (Guenter n.d.a;
Stuart and Houston 1994: 19, Fig. 18) (note 18).

chapter-2.indd 56 20-12-2004 14:10:41


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 57

Figure 2.16 Machaquil, Stela 4 (drawing by Ian Figure 2.17 Machaquil, Stela 8 (drawing by Ian
Graham [1967: Fig. 51]) Graham [1967: Fig. 59])

Stela 8 (Figure 2.17) is dedicated to *9.19.15.0.0, 1 Ahaw 3 Tzek (A.D. 825). This date, as recorded at
[A1], is followed at [A2] by a wi(il) ho tun last ve tun period-ending event (cf. Lacadena 1994, 2002)
and a distance number at [A3-A4] to a second date at [B1] of *9.19.15.13.0, 1 *Ahaw *3 *Kumkuh
(A.D. 826). This date is associated with a closing event ([B2a] u-mak-aw- he closed it) of an unknown
object (B2b), possibly a cache (as has been suggested by Schele and Grube 1995: 183) (note 19) and the
protagonist is named at [B3] as HUN-TZAK-TOK for hun tzak tok One or Unique (hun) Conjuring/
Conjured (tzak) Flint (tok), the name of the new ruler. We have seen this name before; it was recorded at
Motul de San Jos, on a Late Classic style (no surviving date) stela. In part of the surviving primary text
a certain Hun Tzak Tok was identied as kuhul itza ahaw or god-like king of the itza. Although they
have a common name, this text does not refer to the same individual. The nal glyph blocks at [B4-B6]
may record titles of Hun Tzak Tok. The Machaquil stela depicts the standing ruler in the common danc-
ing posture. Again he stands, or better he dances, on the quatrefoil shaped cartouche with water motif.
The evolution of the proportions of the body as well as the evolution of the costume elements is striking
and it diers in many respects from the Late Classic monuments from which it originated (compare to

chapter-2.indd 57 20-12-2004 14:10:44


58 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Figure 2.19 Machaquil, Stela 6 (drawing by


Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 55])

Figure 2.18 Machaquil, Stela 7 (drawing


by Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 57])

Machaquil Stela 2 and the earlier monuments at Dos Pilas and Aguateca). This stylistic evolution, both
of posture, body proportions, as well as costume, is carried further on the last three stelae at Machaquil.
Stela 7 (Figure 2.18) is dedicated, as written at [A2], to *10.0.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 18 Sip (A.D. 830). This
period-ending date is connected through a distance number of 0 kins and 13 winals, as recorded at [A1],
with a new date of *10.0.0.13.0, 7 Ahaw 18 Pax, or November 26, A.D. 830. This date is associated with
a ritual recorded at [C1] to be transliterated as u-mak-aw he closed u-?(a)y the cache(?) followed at
[D1] by u-kal-tun (it is) his stone-wrapping, a ritual generally associated with katun-endings (thus date

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 59

at [A2]). The hieroglyphic text then conrms the name of the ruler on Stela 8. He is referred to as [D4]
u-cha-SERPENT-na bo-bo [E1a] TOK for u-chan bob tok or (he is) the guardian (chan) of bob tok
(a personal name). Bob Tok refers to his most important captive, as u-chan/chan(ul) expressions all over
the Maya area indicate (e.g. Yaxchiln, at which site ruler Yaxun Balam IV is commonly referred to as u-
chan(ul) ah ukul, or (he is) the guardian of Ah Ukul, one of his most important captives). His personal
name follows and it can now be transcribed more clearly as [E1b] HUN-TZAK-TOK for hun tzak tok.
He carries as titles the Machaquil Emblem Glyph (but without the prex kuhul!) and ba(h)kab (E2,
spelled ba-ka-BAH). A distance number leads to a new date recorded at [E4b-E5a] *10.0.0.14.15, with
the event recorded at [E5b] as IL-ha? u-ba for il-ah u-ba(h) seen was his image or portrait (possibly
the date when the stela was nished and erected, for all to see). The Machaquil ruler is again depicted
dancing on the quatrefoil shaped cartouche with water motif. His costume and posture are practically
equal to Stelae 3, 4, and 8. The headdress again contains the Shell Wing Dragon creature.
Stela 6 (Figure 2.19) opens at [A1] with a date *10.0.5.16.0, 8 Ahaw 13 Kumkuh (A.D. 835), fol-
lowed by a period-ending event ocially celebrated 16 winals earlier. The stelas dedicatory date is thus
found in the next date recorded at [A3] *10.0.5.0.0,
13 Ahaw 13 Wo (A.D. 835). The hieroglyphic text is
well-preserved and provides at [A4a] the NAH FIVE
TUN-ni for nah ho tun rst ve tun and at [A4b]
the name of Hun Tzak Tok, the celebrant, followed
at [A5-A7] by his titles, the u-chan bob tok (here
spelled u-cha-SERPENT bo-bo to-ka) title, the
Machaquil Emblem Glyph, and the 28 ba(h)kab
title. In this text also his parentage is given. He is
the son ([A8a] u-ONE-TAN-na for u-hun-tan) of
a certain [A8b] Tzikal Ix(ik) [B1a] Kuhul Ix(ik) ?
Ahaw, with an illegible main sign. He is also the son
([B1b] u-CHIT?-ti CHAB for u-chit [u-]chab
[he is] the father [of the] creation ...) of a man
only referred to by titles, namely an [B2] u-chan (he
is) the guardian of ... sequence (the name can not
be transcribed properly), the Machaquil Emblem
Glyph and the 28 ba(h)kab title (B3-B4, note spell-
ing BAH-ka-ba). The stela depicts Hun Tzak Tok
in a posture and costume that slightly deviates from
Stelae 3, 4, 8, and 7. On Stela 6 he does not hold a
Kawil sta and both his arms are now dynamically
not statically depicted. His pectoral is a simple cut
shell and his headdress is dened by a large jaguar
head. He now wears a simple straight nose bar, in-
stead of the small but prominent Water Lily Serpent
mask.

Stela 5 (Figure 2.20) opens at [A1-A4] with a date


*10.0.10.17.5, 13 Chikchan 13 Kumkuh (A.D. Figure 2.20 Machaquil, Stela 5 (drawing by
840) and an event spelled u-ma-ka-wa for u-mak- Ian Graham [1967: Fig. 53])

chapter-2.indd 59 20-12-2004 14:10:50


60 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

aw- he closed it, followed by the object to be closed, possibly some kind of cache (see above). This
date falls exactly twenty tropical years after the erection of Stela 4 (Schele and Grube 1995: 186). The
dedicatory date is *10.0.10.0.0, 6 Ahaw 8 Pop (A.D. 840), a date recorded at [A5-A6] associated with
unknown (eroded) event (probably the half-period event). The ruler who is named in the two remain-
ing short texts on the right at [B1-B6] is Hun Tzak Tok, also referred to by his most important captive
(u-chan bob tok) and the familiar titles of Machaquil (Emblem Glyph and 28 ba(h)kab). The stela
depicts him in a posture nearly equal to Stelae 3, 4, 8, and 7. On Stela 5, however, he seems to hold a
small sta or torch set with small feathers instead of the common Kawil sta (compare to Copn Altar
Q, on which most rulers hold a comparable sta or torch), his belt assemblage is reduced to simple knots,
but his apron with a highly stylized God C head is prominently depicted. His pectoral is now a simple
straight bar, through his nose runs a nose jewel equal to Stela 6, while his headdress seems to contain the
oversized head of some kind of bird, which, as always, is set with an abundance of feathers.
The monuments in the new style group (that is, Stelae 2, 3, 4, 8, 7, 6, and 5) provide a unique example
of a linear evolution of a local iconographic tradition in the Terminal Classic from *9.18.10.0.0 (A.D.
800) to *10.0.10.0.0 (A.D. 840), apparently originally derived from monuments at Dos Pilas (A.D.
711-721) and Aguateca (A.D. 731 & A.D. 790). The particular chronological order of these Machaquil
monuments is summarized below:

Monument Dedicatory Date Julian Date

Stela 2 *09.18.10.00.00, 10 Ahaw 8 Sak August 15, A.D. 800


*09.19.00.00.00, 9 Ahaw 18 Mol June 24, A.D. 810
Stela 3 *09.19.05.00.00, 2 Ahaw 13 Yaxkin May 29, A.D. 815
Stela 4 *09.19.10.00.00, 8 Ahaw 8 Xul May 2, A.D. 820
Stela 8 *09.19.15.00.00, 1 Ahaw 3 Tzek April 6, A.D. 825
Stela 7 *10.00.00.00.00, 7 Ahaw 18 Sip March 11, A.D. 830
Stela 6 *10.00.05.00.00, 13 Ahaw 13 Wo February 13, A.D. 835
Stela 5 *10.00.10.00.00, 6 Ahaw 8 Pop January 18, A.D. 840

These seven stelae record a step-by-step evolution of a local Terminal Classic style that was to be adopted
at other sites in the region. This region was not particularly large, but it included some very important
sites. As such one can speak of a regional style.
Among the sites that adopted this iconographic tradition are Panhale, a site quite outside the central
Petn area, and Seibal, a close neighbor. Above a passage by Proskouriako was cited who noted the
importance of Machaquil in the region as well as the particular time period. Just after the above passage
she writes:

It was not long, however, that this period of prosperity lasted, and there is some reason to think that even before
the turn of the baktun, its best artists were emigrating to southern Peten, for there is little doubt that the style
of the ve monuments associated with Structure A-3 at Seibal, all with the date 10.1.0.0.0, clearly derives from
that of the late Baktun 9 monuments of Machaquila (Proskouriako 1993: 181).

While the idea of emigrating artists may be somewhat far fetched (which does not mean that artists
did not travel and work abroad), the style that evolved at Machaquil indeed had a local and regional
impact. The iconography of Panhale Stela 1 (Figure 2.21) clearly conforms to the style as developed at

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 61

Machaquil. The hieroglyphic text on this stela opens with *10.0.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 18 Sip (A.D. 830). Im-
portant sections of the hieroglyphic text are too eroded to decipher, as such no event or name of the pro-
tagonist can be given. However, the inscription does reveal an Emblem Glyph, in this case an Emblem
Glyph associated in the Late Classic period with the site of Pomon (Mathews 1991: Fig. 2.2). Panhale is
located between the sites of Pomon and Piedras Negras, at a point where the Usamacinta river leaves the
mountains and enters the plains that lead to the Gulf Coast. By the time Panhale erects its one stela, both
Pomon (last recorded date: 9.18.0.0.0, or A.D. 790) and Piedras Negras (last recorded date: 9.18.5.0.0,
or A.D. 795) do not erect monuments anymore. Panhale is the last site, that is, within the currently
available archaeological record, that erected a monument at this time in this region. The iconography of
the Panhale stela is quite dierent from the Classic iconography in the Pomon-Piedras Negras area. It
may be justied to conclude that the artists who served the local ruler indeed adopted the monumental
style as developed at Machaquil (or possibly traveled to this court). Note the typical apron and belt
assemblage, the large prominent pectoral and collar of small round beads, as well as the Kawil sta and
the elaborate headdress. The headdress contains a depiction of Chak, the rain god, while in front of the
rulers head a more anthropomorphic version of the Water Lily Serpent mask can be found. The date of
Panhale Stela 1 conrms such a conclusion, as the stela is erected in A.D. 830, while the style evolved
at Machaquil from A.D. 800-810 until A.D. 840. If there is ever a movement to be recognized of this
particular style or tradition in the Maya area, the cur-
rent chronological evidence provides a clear clue that it
is from the center (Machaquil) to the west (Panhale)
and not the other way around, as recently has been
suggested (Guenter 1999: 25).
The monumental record at Machaquil fell silent
after A.D. 840 (thus 10 years after Panhale Stela 1), but
the iconographic tradition that evolved at Machaquil
was adopted in the direct vicinity by centers that still
erected or came again to erect monuments. The most
important site among those centers is Seibal, which, as
we have seen above, is one of the sites that records the
nominal phrase Chanek/Kanek twice, one of whom is
associated with Motul de San Jos, the other of whom
is associated with Ucanal. Seibal is a site with a com-
plex occupational pattern, but each level is represented
by a distinctive ceramic phase or complex. The earliest
ceramic phase, named Real Xe, dates from 900-600
B.C., providing Seibal with a very long occupational
history in the area. Of concern here are the ceramic
phases in the Late Classic and the Terminal Classic.
The ceramic phase named Tepejilote Tepeu started
around circa A.D. 650 and continued until circa A.D.
830. This particular phase followed a period of partial
to near to complete abandonment. In the Tepejilote
Tepeu phase the population increased and Seibal again
prospered. In this phase the ceremonial center and Figure 2.21 Panhale, Stela 1 (preliminary
nearly all architectural groups were expanded. To this drawing by Ian Graham)

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62 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

particular phase at Seibal belongs the whole (currently know) epigraphic record. The last ceramic phase
at Seibal, dened by the Bayal Boca complex, lasted until circa A.D. 930, after which the site was aban-
doned, although there might have been a scattered Postclassic occupation (Willey 1990: 260; Willey et
al. 1975: 39-42). The history of the early rulers is not of concern here (for this see Houston and Mathews
1985; Mathews and Willey 1991; Matthews 1994a), our concern is the stela program that belongs to
the last occupational phase at Seibal. For technical and archaeological information on the monumental
sculpture bearing hieroglyphic inscriptions at Seibal I direct the reader to two other studies (Graham
1996; J. A. Graham 1990).

The analysis of the last phase at Seibal opens with one older monument, one of the last monuments
of the Classic tradition at Seibal. This is Stela 7 (a panel) (Figure 2.22). It opens at [A1] with a date
of *9.17.0.0.0, 13 Ahaw 18 Kumkuh (A.D. 771), followed at [A2] by the associated event, spelled
[ho]HOY?-[hi?]ya ti?-AHAW?-wa? for hoy(-h--i)y ti ahaw tied was he (long ago) as king. Than the
nominal phrase of the newly acceded lord follows as [A3] a-AHAW-[bo]to [A4] KUH-ITZAT?-ta for
ahaw bot kuhul itzat(?), a title (ahaw) and name (bot) combined with an important title meaning god-
like (kuhul) sage (itzat?) (note a-AHAW-[bo]to at Dos Pilas, La Amelia Panel 2, cf. Houston 1993:
Fig. 3-21). At [A5] distance number of 1 katun and 10 tuns leads at [A5-B2] to the date *9.18.10.0.0,
10 Ahaw 8 Sak (A.D. 800), identied at [B3] as a half-period station (possibly spelled [TAN]LAM).
The text continues at [B4-B5] with u-ba-hi ti-pi-tzi for u-bah ti-pitz (it is) his image to play ball
(pitz play ball, cf. Stuart 1987: 25), followed at [B6-B9] by the nominal phrase, now extended to ahaw
bot kuhul itzat(?) ah balun habtal ba(h)kab. The stela depicts the ruler Ahaw Bot in the costume of a
ballplayer, in which clearly the protective yoke and feathered skirt are visible. A small pad protects his left
knee, while his lower arms and wrists are also covered. He wears an elaborate headdress in which a skull
(note the teeth of the upper jaw), a jaguars claw, and an abundance of feathers can easily be discerned. A
smoke scroll is attached to the skulls nose bridge. With his legs spread he stands on a glyph collocation
that spells SIX-e-bu-NAL-la for wak ebnal six stair place, a location at Seibal particularly associated
with the ballgame (cf. Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993: 353).
Seibals record falls silent after this stela for a period of 30 years. Interestingly, the last recorded date
of *9.18.10.0.0, 10 Ahaw 8 Sak (A.D. 800), is the rst date of the second phase at Machaquil. The last
monumental phase at Seibal begins with the building of Structure A-3 and the dedication of ve stelae,
an event unique and unsurpassed in all of Maya history. In short, the inscriptions at Structure A-3 refer
to a specic set of dates between A.D. 830 and A.D. 849:

Location Monument Long Count & Calendar Round Julian Date

Faade stucco text *10.00.00.00.00, 7 Ahaw 18 Sip March 15, 830


East Side Stela 11 *09.19.19.17.19, 6 Kawak 17 Sip March 14, 830
*10.00.00.00.00, 7 Ahaw 18 Sip March 15, 830
*10.01.00.00.00, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab November 3, 849
North Side Stela 10 *10.01.00.00.00, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab November 3, 849
West Side Stela 9 *10.01.00.00.00, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab November 3, 849
South Side Stela 8 *10.01.00.00.00, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab November 3, 849
Center Stela 21 *10.01.00.00.00, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab November 3, 849

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 63

Figure 2.22 Seibal, Stela 7 (drawing by


John Montgomery)

Figure 2.23 Seibal, Stela 11


(drawing by John Montgomery)

Structure A-3 is a small radial three-level pyramidal structure. Each side has a stairway and a doorway
that leads to the inner room. The faade was once elaborately decorated with a continuous stucco frieze,
of which only small parts remain. This faade is oriented at 27659 (Aveni 1991: Apndice A, p.355),
which is slightly clockwise from the actual four directions east, west, south, and north. The faade stucco
frieze also contained a continuous single-line hieroglyphic text as well as short columnar captions. Un-
fortunately, not much of these texts has survived. A small part of the surviving text, by way of a Calendar
Round, provides the date *10.0.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 18 Sip.

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64 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Structure A-3 is particularly known for its ve associated stelae. A stela stands in front of each stairway
and three stelae have an associated altar, except the south stela. A fth stela, with associated altar, stands
at the center in the inner room. All ve stelae are devoted to one particular date, the dedicatory date
*10.0.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849). Stela 11 (Figure 2.23), the stela on the east side of Structure
A-3, however, opens at [B1-A2] the scribal record with a date *9.19.19.17.19, 6 Kawak 17 Sip (A.D.
830). As seen earlier in this chapter, the date is followed at [B2] by an arrival event (hul-), which involves
a certain Ah Balun Habtal (C1a). This arrival is supervised, as indicated at [C1b-C2a], by a certain
Chanek/Kanek Hopet, a lord from Ucanal (Ah Kanwitzanal). As we have seen in the text of Seibal
Stela 7, Ah Balun Habtal is a title that already is known at this site since at least A.D. 771. But who
was this particular Ah Balun Habtal? The foreign style of Seibal has been taken as an indication that
the individuals depicted were foreigners (cf. Sablo and Willey 1967). The recent decipherment of the
hul- arrival event seems to underwrite such a contention. His full name and title expression, as seen
above was, Ah Hun Kin Kak Ah Balun Habtal wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le, Kuhul Ahaw of Seibal. Part of
his nominal phrase is written wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le, a sequence of six syllabic signs (in a recent study a
transcription wa-tu-lu-cha-te-le can be found with a transliteration Watul Chatel, cf. Schele and
Mathews 1998). For this nominal phrase no transliteration will be given here. Although most epigraphers
would agree on the identication of the individual parts, a transliteration seems not possible at this mo-
ment as I hesitate where to place the morphemic boundaries. The most important feat of this nominal
phrase, it being a string of six syllabic signs, has been used in establishing his ethnic identity. Mathews
and Willey (1991: 58) contended that (h)is personal name is a compound of six phonetic signs - an
indication of a foreign name. More recently Stuart presented a dierent opinion:

The frequency of phonetic signs in no way points to the spelling of foreign words - the Maya had a phonetic
writing system, and could use it to spell any word that they desired. It is worth noting here that the name glyph
of one of the most celebrated Maya rulers, Pacal of Palenque, is also known to be composed of six phonetic
signs (ha-na-bi-pa-ka-la) (Stuart 1993: 339; spelling & emphasis in original).

In another recent study, providing the same passages on the foreign name hypothesis, it is Guenter who
presents an additional point, overlooked by Stuart:

It is unfortunate that Mathews and Willey worded their statement the way they did for following this Stuart is
fully justied in his criticism. However Stuart ignores the fact that at least half the time we see Kinich Hanaab
Pakals name glyph it incorporates logograms. Watul Katels name, while not recorded nearly as many times as
the Palenque kings, is found on at least half a dozen stelae, and in not a single case is any aspect of his personal
name spelt using a logogram. This strongly suggests that there were no logograms in the Classic script to record
his name, which leads to the conclusion that this name is, in fact, of foreign origin (Guenter 1999: 135; spell-
ing & emphasis in original).

Although personal names are often the most dicult linguistic items to penetrate for either indigenous
or foreign origin, Guenters position seems strong. However, I would add that there is some indication
that through internal evolution Maya writing, a logosyllabic writing system throughout its existence (the
origins of which are still not well-understood), became more and more syllabic towards the end of the
Classic period (cf. Grube 1990a). The absence of any spelling without a logograph is thus not a convinc-
ing argument per se (note 21). This may also apply to Guenters foreign sequences of signs pa-pa-ma-
li-li (Ucanal person mentioned at Caracol) and o-lo-mo (Uaxactn). The sequence o-lo-mo also occurs

chapter-2.indd 64 20-12-2004 14:10:56


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 65

in the nominal part of PSS texts on Terminal Classic molded-carved ceramics from the Caves Branche
area in Belize (cf. Helmke n.d.). As such it can be contended that the Late Classic to Terminal Classic
syllabic sequence wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le can not be an indication by itself of foreign origin or descent (note
20). Even more, at least one of his titles, Ah Balun Habtal, is known from an earlier local monument
at Seibal (i.e. Stela 7). I have found one example in the inscriptions of the Southern Maya Lowlands of
the title Ah Balun Habtal outside of Seibal. This example can be found on Aguateca Stela 19 and refers
to Dos Pilas Ruler 5 through the title ah balun habtal; this stela records a date of *9.18.3.0.17, or A.D.
793. Also note Tikal Stela 24, a fragment of which records a-TWELVE-HAB-?-? (ah lahcha habtal?) as
a lord of Aguateca at *9.19.0.0.0, 9 Ahaw 18 Mol, or A.D. 810 (cf. Schele and Grube 1995: 175), while
El Caribe Stela 1 (Mayer 1980a: Plate 15), a Late Classic monument bearing an eroded Calendar Round
date, records a title a-SEVEN-HAB-ta for ah huk habtal. The title ah huk habtal is also taken by Ah
Kan Max, a lord from El Chorro, as a title following his one katun accession anniversary as contained
in the inscription on an unprovenanced altar (Mayer 1984: Plate 56 [photograph], Mayer 1991: Plate
98 [drawing]).
To reiterate, Ah Balun Habtal is clearly the one who arrives. The text on Stela 11 indicates that this
event was supervised by a Chanek/Kanek Hopet who, through a title of origin, is an inhabitant of some
importance of Ucanal. The role of Ucanal will become apparent below. The recording of the arrival of Ah
Balun Habtal is followed by another arrival event. This particular arrival event concerns two portable
object knowns as palanquins or litters, referred to as FOUR-?-ta-AHAW and EIGHT-?-ta. The still
unknown main sign has been identied in previous research to refer to the large palanquins or litters
carried by the Maya in which their gods and rulers were seated, both in war and dance pageants (cf.
Boot 1998a; Martin 1996b; Wagner 1995b). There is no direct indication in the text on this stela from
where or to which place the arrival event took place. After the arrival event on Stela 11 follows [E1] the
recording of the Seibal Emblem Glyph, thus referring back to Ah Balun Habtal. A distance number of
1 day ([F1] ONE-la-ta for hun lat one [day] later) leads to the date *10.0.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 18 Sip (A.D.
830) at [E2]. The top panel text ends with a statement at [F2] that this indeed is the tenth baktun and
a distance number of 1 katun, which leads to a new date recorded at [G1], namely *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw
3 Kayab (A.D. 849). The text ends at [G2-G3] with the statement that this is the rst counted katun
(u-ONE-TAL-WINIK.HAB for u-hun-tal-winikhab), supervised (u-EARTH-hi-ya for u-kab-h--iy)
by wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le. Two additional hieroglyphic text panels at [G4-G6] and [H1-H3] provided ad-
ditional information, but these are too eroded to be deciphered. The stela depicts a male gure in a
familiar style, namely a style that developed at Machaquil. He stands with his legs parted upon the
ground surface, below his feet a bound captive can be found. In many respects his costume is similar to
the Machaquil examples presented above. His body position could be indicative of dancing. Especially
note his headdress in comparison to Machaquil Stela 4, 8, and 7. At Seibal it only contains a smaller
version of the Shell Wing Dragon creature. His face is covered by a full mosaic mask representing the
Water Lily Serpent, which is substantiated through the inclusion into his headdress of a sh nibbling at
a water lily (compare to Matthews 1994a: 92, who does not identify the entity represented by the mask).
The right hand of the male gure is positioned like in the scattering event (perhaps due to erosion, but
no drops are visible), while in his left hand he holds a simple sta.
Stela 10 (Figure 2.24), on the north side of Structure A-3, opens at [B1-A2] with the date *10.1.0.0.0,
5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849), followed at [B2-A3] by the expression u-ONE-TAL?-la wi-WINIK-
HAB for u-hun-tal winikhab (it is) the rst counted katun period (as it is indeed the rst katun in the
tenth baktun). It is followed at [B3] by an expression related to period endings, namely u-chok-ow (chah)
he sprinkled (droplets). The one who sprinkles is identied in the next six collocations at [A4-A7] as

chapter-2.indd 65 20-12-2004 14:10:57


66 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Figure 2.24 Seibal, Stela 10 (drawing by John Montgomery)

chapter-2.indd 66 20-12-2004 14:11:01


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 67

Ah Hun Kin Kak, Ah Balun Habtal, wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le, Kuhul Seibal Ahaw. The hieroglyphic
text on this stela provides the Chanek/Kanek from the site of Motul de San Jos (A10-B10), as well as
other named lords from the sites of Mutal (Tikal) and Kanal (Calakmul), as discussed earlier. These lords
witnessed the period ending event. The hieroglyphic text ends in a collocation that states that the period
event took place (u-ti-ya for ut--iy) at the center of Seibal (TAN-na-SEIBAL). The iconography,
again, is clearly derived from the Machaquil style or tradition. A male gure is depicted carrying a large
ceremonial bar, known from many Late Classic images. As Schele and Mathews recently demonstrated:

[...] the way he uses it represents a real innovation. In the age-old tradition of the Maya, kings held Double-
headed Serpent Bars that symbolized the ecliptic path of the sun and royal integration with the larger cosmos
[see Freidel, Schele and Parker 1993]. Here Watul [the authors identify the male gure as Watul Chatel]
has replaced the snake with the Cosmic Monster that represented the arch of the sky in the form of the Milky
Way when it is oriented east to west. However, the Maya usually depicted this Cosmic Monster as a crocodile.
Here, Watuls artist gave it a skyband and snake body to merge the two great domains into one. [...] (Schele
and Mathews 1998: 185).

This particular example may thus indicate that both style and contents evolved within the realm of the
Classic Maya tradition. Also the nose plug, a multifaceted bar placed through the septum, is similar to the
nose plugs found earlier at Machaquil (Stela 6 [A.D. 835] and Stela 5 [A.D. 840]). The head band and
headdress of the depicted male gure are very complex. The headband, made of square elements, is set
with images of the Jestergod or Hunal, patron of royal power. The headdress is set with tree mat symbols
(the three interlaced woven elements), the outer ones of which are set with small serpent heads (compare
to Seibal Stela 1, below). The headdress is abundantly set with feathers, while on top a small depiction
of the god GI (God One of the Palenque Triad) with a heron holding a small sh can be found. This
particular GI manifestation is one of the possible patron gods of Seibal, which are referred to three times
in the inscriptions at Seibal (Hieroglyphic Stairway, Tablet 4: U2b-V2a; Stela 6: B7b-A8a; Stela 14: B).
Stela 9 (Figure 2.25), on the western side of Structure A-3, opens at [A1-A2] with the date *10.1.0.0.0,
5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849). The event recorded at [B1-B2] is the witnessing (IL for il(-ah)- seen
was) of the image (u-ba-hi for u-bah) of (ti) the Kan Water Lily Serpent Nahkan (KAN-na-WA-
TER.LILY.SERPENT?-NAH-SERPENT-na) or Precious Water Lily Serpent(?) Great(?) Serpent. The
hieroglyphic sign after KAN-na seems to provide the portrait head of the Water Lily Serpent (note
22). This is possibly also the proper name of a specic ophidian creature at Tikal, as noted by Schele
and Mathews (1998: 189-190, Fig. 5.16). The hieroglyphic texts continues at [C2] with the statement
u-RECEIVE-KUH for u-cham/kam-kuh (it is) the receiving (of the) god by ..., followed at [C3-D2]
by the title sequence Ah Balun Habtal, Ah Hun Kin Kak Kuhul Seibal Ahaw, thus through titles
referring to wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le. Two additional collocations at [D3-D4] provide a nominal and title
phrase spelling ?-ta-FOUR-EIGHT-e-ke KUH-HUL LAKAM.TUN AHAW. The rst collocation
provides a nominal phrase, of which the precise order is not entirely clear (perhaps leading to ?-t chan/kan
waxak ek or waxak-?-t chanek/kanek?), while the second collocation refers to the kuhul ahaw God-like
King of the site of Lakamtn (compare to suggestion by Guenter 1999: 137). These last two collocations
seem to indicate that a distant lord participated in the event. It is clear that an additional individual is
meant. The fact that no relationship statement is recorded between the two names can be quite simply
explained. In the text of Seibal Stela 10 three dierent foreign lords witness the main event, but be-
tween their names no relationship statement is recorded. The leaving out of the relationship statement

chapter-2.indd 67 20-12-2004 14:11:01


68 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

seems to be a typical form of underspelling


in Maya writing (alternatively, the colloca-
tion at [D3] as ?-ta spells the verb or rela-
tionship statement). In the inscriptions of
Yaxchiln there are individuals (captives,
visitors) mentioned, who carry an Emblem
Glyph that spells LAKAM.TUN (cf. Schele
and Mathews 1998: 190 & note 11). If these
Emblem Glyphs at Seibal and Yaxchiln
indeed refer to the same political and geo-
graphical area, the site of Lakamtn, located
somewhere in the greater Yaxchiln region,
lies to the west of Seibal. While the precise
location of this site named Lakamtn is still
unknown, it should be noted that some dis-
tance further to the west it was Panhale that
erected its one stela at *10.0.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw
18 Sip (A.D. 830). As such, contrary to earli-
er research, other centers may still have been
active at 10.1.0.0.0 (A.D. 849) in the west-
ern region. The stela depicts a male human
gure holding a sky-band decorated serpent
bar, from which possibly emerges the Water
Lily Serpent, as described in the hieroglyphic
text. The male individual does not wear a
complex costume; recognizable are the belt
assemblage with frontal view of a xok sh, his
collar and attached breast pectoral, while in
his headdress the image of the god Chak can
be found.
Stela 8 (Figure 2.26), on the south side Figure 2.25 Seibal, Stela 9 (drawing by John Montgomery)
of Structure A-3, opens at [A1-B1] with the
date *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab. The
event recorded at [A2] is a common period-ending event (u-KAL?-wa-TUN-ni for u-kal-aw-tun he
wrapped stone). It is followed at [C1-C2] by the nominal wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le and the title Kuhul
Seibal Ahaw. At [C3a] follows a second event, in this case a witness event (IL-a for il-a(h)- seen
was it ...) and the collocations that identify the observer. The rst collocation at [C3b] spells KUH-
HUL pu AHAW for kuhul pu(h?) ahaw God-like King of Pu(h?), the second collocation at [C4] may
provide a title of provenience spelled ?-?-WITZ[tzi]-li or ??-witzil. In earlier research the sux -il is not
explained (Schele and Mathews 1998: 192, note 14). My tentative transcription of the whole collocation
is TWENTY-EARTH?-WITZ[tzi]-li for winikkabwitzil he from twenty earth (or region) mountain
(compare to Schele and Grube 1995: 188), in which -il is an agentive sux denoting provenience. The -il
sux to indicate provenience occurs in present-day Yucatec Maya, as noted by Harrington (1957: 245):
Valladolid is called saki. A person of Valladolid is called sakiil (also note hoil resident of Mrida [Ho
or T-ho]; Alfonso Lacadena, personal communication, November 7, 2002 [7th EMC]). A sequence

chapter-2.indd 68 20-12-2004 14:11:04


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 69

TWENTY-EARTH also occurs in the primary text


on Kerr No. 1837 (Kerr 1989: 116), an unprov-
enanced vessel probably from the Holmul-Naranjo
area, possibly as part of a nominal or titular phrase.
The Emblem Glyph in the inscription on Seibal
Stela 8 refers to a polity or area named Pu(h). In
several Yucatecan Maya languages pu(h) means
reed and it may refer to a Place of Reed (note
the present-day place names Xpuhil Place of Reed
and Tip At the Reeds). In a previous study the
TWENTY-EARTH collocation was transliterated
as Hakawits and was related to a comparable
name in the Kich book Popol Wuj, in which
it (as Hakawitz, cf. Tedlock 1996) refers to the
name of a patron god given to the Kich founder
Mahucutah. In the same study it was suggested
that Hakawitz was the name of a historical indi-
vidual of a place named Pu(h) (Puh) or Place of
Reed, a reference to a place of creation and origin,
in central Mexico known as Tullan or Tollan Place
of Reed (Schele and Mathews 1998: 192-193).
But with the above dierent reading of the glyphs
as Winikkabwitzil and additionally identifying the
collocation as a title of provenience these particu-
lar observations are no longer tenable. I return to
this passage below. The hieroglyphic text on Stela 8
Figure 2.26 Seibal, Stela 8 (drawing by Linda ends at [C5] in a simple formulaic expression u-
Schele) ti-ya for ut--iy it happened (long ago) (at) ...,
followed by the hieroglyphic signs that spell the
location. The location here is identied by a sign in a quatrefoil shape, inxed with a water motif, and
suxed with a syllabic sign na. Its precise reading is still unknown (however, note Looper 2000 for a
transcription CHEN, which I hold to be incorrect), but the quatrefoil shape with inxed water motif
is reminiscent of Stelae 10, 4, 8, and 7 at Machaquil. The sux na may be a phonetic complement to
the quatrefoil shaped glyph (as Looper uses in his transcription CHEN-na) or short for nah structure,
house. Note for example the sux na on several ballcourt glyph collocations at Tonin, Naranjo, and
Caracol (Boot 1991: Figs. 1a, d-e), which probably are not phonetic complements but provide a gloss
like eb na(h) or stairway structure (i.e. a structure used for ballplaying). The image on the stela depicts
a male gure in the costume of the Bearded Jaguar God, clearly indicative of which are the jaguar foot-
wear and gloves, the articial beard (more correctly, a serpentine lower jaw), and the cruller around his
eye (note 23). In his right hand he holds an image of Kawil, but only the head instead of the previously
common Kawil sta (Dos Pilas Stela 11, 14, and 15; Machaquil Stela 2, 3, 4, 8, and 7; Panhale Stela
1). The headdress, in most detail that is (note the small Shell Wing Dragon creature), is the same as on
Stela 11. Quite dierent is the headband. Although still made of square elements, now the partly eroded
image of a small descending bird can be found attached to the front of the headband (cf. Kowalski 1989;

chapter-2.indd 69 20-12-2004 14:11:06


70 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Schele and Mathews 1998: 192). This male gure also wears a slightly dierent collar, to which the head
of the severed xok sh is attached (Schele and Mathews 1998: 190-191).
Stela 21 (Figure 2.27), which stands at the center of Structure A-3, completes the series of ve stelae. It
opens at [A1-B1], again, with the date *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849). The text is too eroded
to be deciphered properly, but it seems to continue at [A2-B4] with the il- ba(h) witness verb and
at [A3-B5] the nominal phrase of a
new individual, although all diagnos-
tic signs are eroded. The texts ends
at [A6a] with a statement spelled
yi-ta-hi for y-it-ah- he accompa-
nied him (see Chapter 4). The one
who accompanies the possibly ear-
lier mentioned individual is referred
to by the titles at [A6b-B7] as Ah
Balun Habtal and Kuhul Seibal
Ahaw. The image on the stela again
portrays a male gure. Like on Stela
8, the human gure wears the facial
mask of the Bearded Jaguar God. In
his right hand he now holds a Kawil
sta, while in his left hand he holds a
shield with a side-view of the Beard-
ed Jaguar God, the entity the ruler
portrays. The border of the shield is
dark, indicated by the cross-hatch-
ing, while feathers adorn two of its
corners. Most impressive is his head-
dress, which was recently described
as follows:

A large bird dives through his


beehive (or perhaps we should say
birdnest) hairdo. Its neck and
head emerge from the front hair, Figure 2.27 Seibal, Stela 21 (drawing by Linda Schele)
while its talons extend upward
from the back of Watuls [again, the authors identify the male gure as Watul Chatel] head [...]. This bizarre
image evokes a pair of Tikal censers showing the cruller-eyed Bearded Jaguar God with a diving bird appended
to his head. There the bird has black-tipped feathers and a large beaked head like the Seibal example. We dont
understand the symbolism at the present time, but we suspect that the combination identies a special aspect
of the Bearded Jaguar God [...] (Schele and Mathews 1998: 195).

As also the male gure on Stela 8 impersonates the Bearded Jaguar God, the small descending bird in that
costume also may be related to this particular combination of jaguar and bird and possibly provides clues
to the decipherment of an important gods name as (u)huk chapat tzikin kinich ahaw Seven Centipede
Bird Great Sun/Sun-Eye King or Lord (see Chapter 3). The ve stelae at Structure A-3 provide one of

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 71

the most extensive and unique sculptural programs in the Maya area. These ve stelae also have played
a pivotal role in determining foreign inuence, as suggested in previous research (cf. Kowalski 1989;
Sablo and Willey 1967; Guenter 1999; Thompson 1970). Recently, however, Schele and Mathews sug-
gested that wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le (as Watul Chatel) was not a distant foreigner but that he came from
Ucanal, based on their interpretation of the arrival event in the text of Stela 11. On the subject of this
particular sculptural program they suggested:

Far from being foreign, Watuls construction created a charter for authority derived from the most ancient and
orthodox of Maya religious and political thought. Yet at the same time, his elaborations on these themes were
virtuoso performances of innovation. [...] (Schele and Mathews 1998: 195).

But did wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le indeed come from Ucanal? Schele and Mathews (1998: 179) do describe
such a scenario for the arrival event earlier in their work, but the text on Stela 11 does not refer to an ar-
rival of a person from Ucanal at all. I thus fully agree with Guenters recent comment that Stela 11 does
not, in fact, state that the new king of Seibal, Ah Bolon Aabtal Watul Katel, was from Ucanal (Guenter
1999: 134; spelling and emphasis in original). But, what was the role of Ucanal? The hieroglyphic text
of Stela 11, as analyzed in detail above, provides the answer: hul-i ah balun habtal, u-kab-h--iy chanek/
kanek hopet ah kanwitznal, or arrived Ah Balun Habtal; he supervised it (long ago), Chanek/Kanek
Hopet, He of Kanwitznal. The text does not state that Ah Balun Habtal came from Ucanal. The text
refers to his arrival and the fact that this arrival was supervised by Chanek/Kanek Hopet and that that
particular individual is from Ucanal (through kanwitznal, its original name). Even more, and in agree-
ment with Guenter (1999: 134), this Chanek/Kanek is not even a king of Ucanal, he only is said to be a
person from Ucanal through a simple title of origin ah kanwitznal. From which place Ah Balun Habtal
thus arrived remains unresolved. Before we continue with Seibal, it is important to discuss Ucanal and
its Stela 4.

Ucanal is known for a small corpus of inscribed monuments (5 stelae, plus one at Yaltut, and 2 altars),
of which Stela 4 is the best preserved (Figure 2.28). The stela depicts two male gures (the one on the left
clearly smaller than the gure on the right), above them a oating male gure, while a captive is placed
below their feet. This stela contains three hieroglyphic texts. The reading order of the rst text is A1-B1-
C1-A2-B2-C2-B3-C3. This text opens at [A1-C1] with a date *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab, with a
Glyph F (possibly including G) indication (A.D. 849). This is the same dedicatory date as the stelae at
Seibals Structure A-3. The date is followed at [A2-B2] by two related period-ending events, the wrapping
of the stone (u-KAL-TUN-ni for u-kal-tun (it is) his stone-wrapping) and the scattering of drops
(u-CHOK?-wa for u-chok-ow- he scattered it).
Both events should be followed by a nominal phrase identifying the subject of the sentence. Among the
four collocations at [C2-C3] that seem to identify the subject, the rst one at [C2] contains two square car-
touches superxed with normal bar-and-dot numeral coecients (10 and 13). This is one of the very
rare occasions in which square cartouches are used in hieroglyphic texts in the Maya area. Other examples
are known, on two later Terminal Classic monuments at Seibal (Stelae 3 & 13) and the site of Jimbal
(Stelae 1 [12, 13, and 1] & 2 [again 12, 13, and 1], dated to *10.3.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 3 Yaxkin, or
A.D. 889). These square cartouches, as well as the inxed signs, have been seen as an indication of direct
foreign inuence (compare to Thompson 1970: 41-42). It should be noted here, however, that the text
on a Late Classic ceramic (probably from the eastern Maya area, based on the style of painting) contains
square cartouches, preceded by numerals (11 and 12) and which are part of a nominal phrase (see

chapter-2.indd 71 20-12-2004 14:11:08


72 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Kerr No. 6437, Kerr 2000: 967).


All the cartouches contain signs of
non-Maya origin. The two square
cartouches are followed at [B3] by
the title ba(h)kab, although this
collocation is quite eroded, and at
[C3] KUH [KAN]WITZ-NAL
AX.WIELDING.CHAK-TE for
kuhul kanwitznal kalomte. This
variant example of an Emblem
Glyph incorporates the variable
part kanwitznal, that identi-
es Ucanal, with the invariable
part kuhul as well as kalomte,
that replaces the more regular
ahaw. As stated earlier, kalomte
was a title taken by the selected
number of the most important
kings and probably indicates a
supreme warrior status. The text
may continue with the three col-
locations on the right. It opens at
[E1] with a straightforward Em-
blem Glyph that spells KUH
[KAN]WITZ-NAL AHAW for
kuhul kanwitznal ahaw. This title
may simply form a couplet with
kuhul kanwitznal kalomte. The
rst part of the next glyph block
at [E2a] spells yi-chi-NAL for y-
ichnal- (he is) in the presence
of (him/them)..., followed at Figure 2.28 Ucanal, Stela 4 (drawing by Ian Graham [1980: 159])
[E2b-E3] by the cephalomorphic
main signs that identify the so-
called Paddler Gods. These two gods (each identied with a separate nickname, Jaguar Paddler and
Stingray Paddler), when invoked, accompany Classic Maya rulers on several occasions in important ritual
contexts (cf. Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993: 89-95, 244; Schele and Freidel 1990: 389, 391, 412, 503;
Schele and Mathews 1998: 414). A text consisting of three collocations is depicted between the two cen-
tral individuals. The second half of the rst collocation at [D1] contains the signs for SIY-ya, while the
second collocation at [D2] spells KIN-ni CHAK-ki. Both collocations lead to a nominal phrase that can
be transliterated Siyah Kin Chak. A similar name phrase we have seen previously at Machaquil (Stelae
11 & 3), as the nominal phrase for two dierent local rulers. At Ucanal, as recorded at [D3] the nominal
phrase of Siyah Kin Chak also includes a square cartouche sign containing a possible non-Maya element
whih is prexed with the numeral seven.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 73

Two male gures on Ucanals Stela 4 are depicted standing and they form the focal point of the scene.
The gure on the right is depicted frontally, with his head turned to the left, in a style quite reminiscent
of Machaquil and Seibal, especially in reference to the apron, belt assemblage, as well as the prominent
headdress containing the image of the god Chak. In his left hand he holds the Kawil sta. This gure
may be identied through the title couplet Kuhul Kanwitznal Kalomt, Kuhul Kanwitznal Ahaw, and
thus is the contemporary Ucanal ruler. The smaller gure on the left is depicted from the side, but his
costume seems to conform to the same style (note the border of the loincloth and the elaborate headdress)
and he holds a Kawil sta. He may be identied by the Siyah Kin Chak nominal phrase. Below the male
gures lies a bound captive, belly down, who is stripped of all his clothes and regalia; small eroded glyphs
on the body of the captive probably provided his nominal phrase. Above the two central gures oats a
human male gure. He is surrounded by a curling S-motif, indicative of a cloud in Maya iconography
(cf. Houston and Stuart 1990; Reilley 1996; Stone 1996). The oating gure has a small headdress in
which the headband made of square elements is quite prominent. To the front of the headband a tri-
pointed object can be found to which a double re or smoke scroll is attached. In his right hand he holds
a spearthrower, in his left hand he holds two long-shafted throwing darts. The spearthrower is generally
interpreted as a central Mexican instrument, but possibly by 4000 B.C. spearthrowers and javelins were
already in use in Mesoamerica. This original hunting tool, doubling as a weapon, may have preceded
the arrow-and-bow in Mesoamerica by some ve and a half millennium (cf. Hassig 1992: 13, note 7).
The human gure, through his spearthrower and throwing darts, can be simply identied as a warrior.
It is possibly the depiction of an ancestor who was conjured by the Ucanal ruler. It can be compared to
Yaxchiln Lintel 25, to be discussed below. This stela at Ucanal stands in the same stylistic tradition that
evolved at Machaquil and which was continued at Seibal. With contemporary monuments at Seibal and
Ucanal, the style that evolved at Machaquil indeed became a dominant regional tradition during the
Terminal Classic period.

What does the Ucanal connection mean for Seibal? The Structure A-3 complex contains ve stelae, with
at each direction a stela as well as one in the center. The hieroglyphic texts provide further clues to this
intriguing arrangement.
It is unfortunate that most of the stucco faade text is eroded, but the stelae texts have survived in
most of their detail. What now follows is a hypothetical reconstruction of the events recorded. Through
its opening date of *9.19.19.17.19, 6 Kawak 17 Sip (A.D. 830), Stela 11 may have begun the complete
hieroglyphic and iconographic complex. It is Ah Balun Habtal who is said to have arrived on this date,
although it is not stated from where. The arrival event can be taken to be diagnostic of a foreigner arriv-
ing at Seibal. However, as shown above, the title Ah Balun Habtal is in use at Seibal prior to this date,
as recorded on Stela 7, which describes events between *9.17.0.0.0, 13 Ahaw 18 Kumkuh (A.D. 771)
and *9.18.10.0.0, 10 Ahaw 8 Sak (A.D. 800). At least one other example of this title occurs at Aguateca
(Stela 19). Ah Balun Habtal thus seems to be a local title. The circumstances of this arrival will remain
a mystery unless additional epigraphic material becomes available, but based on his title he is clearly of
local origin (which includes Seibals surroundings). Although no currently available dictionary entry is
helpful in establishing a possible transliteration and translation of the nominal wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le, it is
contended that this name is local too. In any event, his arrival is supervised by a certain Chanek/Kanek
Hopet from the site of Ucanal. This person is not the high lord of that site, as he only carries the title
Ah Kanwitznal He of Ucanal. The fact that he is named Chanek/Kanek and comes from Ucanal is of
importance here. This eastern region of the Southern Maya Lowlands is associated with other individuals
named Chanek/Kanek (e.g., the ceramics that provide the Xultn Emblem Glyph as well as Xultn

chapter-2.indd 73 20-12-2004 14:11:11


74 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Stela 24 and 25). Also Ucanal participated in the new iconographic tradition that originated at Macha-
quil. Ucanal is located to the east of Seibal and to the south of Xultn. Seibal Stela 11, which describes
the arrival event and the Ucanal supervision, is erected on the east side of Structure A-3. This placement
on the east side of Stela 11 is not accidental. At this particular time, Ucanal may thus have been an im-
portance regional capital overseeing regional aairs.
Stela 10 opens with the date *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849). According to the text a scat-
tering event by Ah Balun Habtal wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le is witnessed by the high lords of the sites of
Mutal (Tikal), Kanal (Calakmul), and Motul de San Jos. The event happened at the center of Seibal,
but the three sites are all located to the north of Seibal. Stela 10 is erected at the north side of Structure
A-3. Interestingly, the top of the altar to Stela 10 contains an intricate patolli design. As central Mexican
colonial sources indicate, patolli is a game associated with rulership (see Chapter 3). Stela 9 again opens
with a date *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849). The main event is the conjuring of a particular
god, apparently witnessed by a lord from the site of Lakamtn. As described above, Lakamtn might
be a site in the Yaxchiln area, to the west of Seibal. Also note that Panhale, to the west of the Yaxchiln
area, erected a stela in the regional Machaquil style in A.D. 830. Stela 9 is erected on the west side of
Structure A-3. Stela 8 also opens with the date *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849), the associated
event is stone wrapping. Ah Balun Habtal, here referred to as wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le, is associated with
a god-like king of Pu(h), from a place named possibly Winikkabwitz (with -il sux to indicate title of
provenience). The event is said to have happened at a place or location indicated by a quatrefoil shaped
sign with an inxed water motif. In this particular case it has been interpreted to mean just plaza in
general (cf. Schele and Mathews 1998: 193, Fig. 5.19). This particular quatrefoil shaped sign and water
motif is known to occur at Machaquil, as discused earlier, where it refers to the plaza with the quatrefoil
depression. Two additional examples are known, an earlier example is recorded at Dos Pilas (Stela 26)
and a later example at Seibal (Stela 4). If deduced correctly, it further can be suggested, following Schele
and Mathews (see above), that the Pu(h) Emblem Glyph in this text indeed refers to a Place of Reed.
The Place of Reed to which it refers is not in the Guatemalan Highlands, it may refer to the site of
Machaquil, to which also the place sign in the hieroglyphic text specically may refer. Machaquil may
thus have served as a seat of power, much in the sense as Places of Reed known as Tullan or Tollan
served as seats of power and origin in ancient Mesoamerica (see Chapter 3). Winikkabwitz (if correctly
transcribed, but the part -witz plus additional -il are secure) may simply be a reference to Machaquil
itself or a part of Machaquil, thus referring to a person (-il) coming from Winikkabwitz, who is en-
titled Kuhul Pu(h) Ahaw. Machaquil is to the southeast of Seibal and Stela 8 is erected on the south
side of Structure A-3. Stela 21 also records the date *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849). Most of
the text is eroded, but it ends in the recording of Ah Balun Habtal as Kuhul Seibal Ahaw. With most
of its hieroglyphic text being eroded, there is no apparent directional association except that it ends with
a reference to the Seibal ruler himself (in contrast to the other stelae at Structure A-3). Stela 21 stands at
the center of Structure A-3 at Seibal.
The directional pattern this stela program reveals is of unprecedented proportions in the whole of the
Maya area. While in the past only the text of Stela 10 is used to describe a kind of greater territorial and
political organization of the Maya area (cf. Marcus 1976), the text places Seibal, in a very localized ver-
sion, at the center of the Terminal Classic Maya world of the Southern Maya Lowlands. The particular di-
rectional and territorial orientation is an additional indication that Ah Balun Habtal was a king of local
descent, not a foreigner. In his time Seibal shared in the innovative iconographic tradition that originated
at Machaquil and which also was adopted by other sites such as Panhale in the west and Ucanal in the
east. Also Xultn shares in this tradition, to which testify its Stela 3 and Stela 10 dating to 10.1.10.0.0,

chapter-2.indd 74 20-12-2004 14:11:11


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 75

4 Ahaw 13 Kankin (A.D. 859) and *10.3.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 3 Yaxkin (A.D. 889) respectively (for draw-
ings, see Graham 1978: 15, 37). The iconography of these two particular stelae combines a specic local
style (only at Xultn lords are depicted with small jaguars lifted by the hand) with a pan-regional style
originating at Machaquil (note the narrow apron, belt assemblage, hairdo, headband, and headdress).
With an iconography that developed locally at Machaquil and with a stela program that places Seibal
at the center of the Terminal Classic Maya world, who are the male gures depicted on these ve stelae
at Structure A-3? In a previous study, Schele and Mathews identied each one of them as Ah Balun
Habtal. However, it has to be noted that each face is rendered dierently. Guenter (1999: 137) suggests
that the west stela may depict the lord from Lakamtn, as one of his toes touches the Emblem Glyph
of that site in the text. Although tentative, as an alternative all ve male gures may be dierent people
with on the east stela Chanek/Kanek from Ucanal, on the north
stela the king from Mutal, Kanal, or Motul de San Jos, on the west
stela the king from Lakamtn, on the south stela the king from
Puh and Winikkabwitz, and at the center the king of Seibal, Ah
Balun Habtal wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le. This is only a suggestion, as
no other example is known in the Southern Maya Lowlands that
depicts visiting (or just foreign) lords in such an prominent man-
ner (the visiting lords on Piedras Negras Panel 3, for instance, are
clearly depicted in a submissive position). As such all ve may be
Ah Balun Habtal, the dierences in facial appearance only due to
individual artistic variation.

Ah Balun Habtal and his possible successor(s) continued to reign


at Seibal. They celebrated their reign through the erection of sev-
eral more stelae that in iconographic style became more and more
distinct from the original template of the Late Classic and which
presented a further local evolution of this particular style. Some of
the stelae that are most indicative of this development will now be
discussed.
Stela 14 (Figure 2.29) has a very elaborate iconography in which
we recognize a standing ruler depicted typically in the style as used
on many of the monuments discussed above. Particularly note the
apron, the belt assemblage, the pectoral and collar, and the head-
dress. The articial beard (a serpentine lower jaw) again identies
the ruler as an impersonator of the Bearded Jaguar God. In his right
hand he holds a stylized ax (note the blade and the curled end at
the top) and in his left hand some kind of bag. More importantly
is the positioning of the feet. Both feet are turned to one side, in
this case to the left. This is a drastic deviation from Late Classic and
most Terminal Classic iconography. It is, however, not uncommon
in Maya iconography as especially during the Early Classic period
Maya rulers were depicted standing with their feet pointing to one
direction (e.g. Cival Stela 2 [Late Preclassic], La Sufricaya Stelae 1
Figure 2.29 Seibal, Stela 14 & 3, Leiden Plaque, San Diego Cli Carving, Tikal Stela 39, Uolan-
(drawing by John Montgomery) tn Stela 1, Xultn Stela 12, Yaxchiln Stela 14). Possibly this older

chapter-2.indd 75 20-12-2004 14:11:12


76 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

tradition was re-established in the


Late Classic period. Below the feet
of the standing gure one can nd
three collocations; the collocation
at [B] records the patron god of
Seibal. Stela 4 (Figure 2.30) opens
at [A1-B1] with a date *10.1.10.0.0,
4 Ahaw 13 Kankin (A.D. 859).
No event is recorded, but at [A2]
the epithet Ah Balun Habtal can
be found, followed at [B2-A3] by a
sequence spelling u-wa-tu-?-ka-
la, apparently an alternative spelling
for wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le. A possible
additional title is seemingly record-
ed at [B3]. Although the primary
event is unknown, at [A4-B4] the
text indicates it happened (u-ti-ya
for ut--iy) at a location identied
by the quatrefoil shaped cartouche
with inxed water motif. A second
date at [A5-B5], which due to ero-
sion can not be satisfactorily recon-
structed, ends the rst text. The
second text at [C1-D5] is, unfortu-
nately, completely eroded. The stela
depicts a male human gure, more
Figure 2.30 Seibal, Stela 4 (drawing by James B. Porter [J. A. than probably Ah Balun Habtal
Graham 1990: Fig. 36]) wa-[tu]lu-ka-te-le himself. Again
he impersonates the Bearded Jaguar
God, diagnostic of which in this portrait are the articial beard (a serpentine lower jaw) and the cruller
around the eye. A large back-rack set with feathers towers above his head and headdress. Although the
image is weathered, this stela provides a much less complex iconography. The hieroglyphic text on Stela 1
(Figure 2.31) opens at [A1-A2] with the date *10.2.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw 3 Keh (A.D. 869). The text continues
with the recording of two events. The rst event at [A3-A4] can not be identied, the second event at
[A5-A6] is a period-ending event in typical Classic parlance spelled u-KAL?-wa TUN-ni for u-kal-aw-
tun he wrapped stone, an event associated with katun endings (cf. Stuart 1996). It is followed at by two
collocations that provide titles [B1] YAX ka-AX.WIELDING.CHAK-TE and [B2] KUH ITZAT?-ta
for yax kalomte kuhul itzat(?) rst (or green) kalomte, god-like sage. One gure is depicted on this
stela and his feet again are turned to one direction (to the left). The costume the gure is wearing is very
elaborate. Clearly identiable are his belt assemblage with the side view of a xok sh (on the left of his
belt) and two small human faces, the jaguar skin skirt, the large pectoral, as well as the large headdress.
The headdress, discussed in detail by Kowalski (1989), contains the interwoven bodies of four serpents
(or, more probably, two double headed serpents; compare to Pax 1982: 92, cited in Matthews 1994a:
73, note 34), a hand with a checker board pattern, a sun sign with a tri-pointed int serving as wing to

chapter-2.indd 76 20-12-2004 14:11:13


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 77

Figure 2.31 Seibal, Stela 1 (drawing by John Figure 2.32 Seibal, Stela 20 (drawing by
Montgomery) James B. Porter)

a long-necked bird. The combination of the long-necked bird with sun sign and tri-pointed int will
be seen below again. The whole assemblage is set with an abundance of feathers. In his right hand he
holds a wooden lance topped with a long blade, ragged on both sides. In his left hand, like on Stela 14,
he holds a bag. The text on Stela 20 (Figure 2.32) opens at [A1-A2] with the date *10.3.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw
3 Yaxkin (A.D. 889). The date is followed by two collocations, at [A3] probably spelling yi-IL u-ba for
y-il u-ba(h) it is the seeing of the image, possibly followed at [A4] by ka-yi? SAK[DAY.SIGN:IK?]-
NIK?-la? for kaay nik(?) sak ik-al/na-al remembered(?) was ower(?) white breath/wind, a Classic
Maya metaphor for death (the value T533 NIK? is questionable; recent suggestions include NUK and
NAK [Barbara MacLeod, personal communication through e-mail, September-November 2003]). The
stela depicts a single individual, clearly recognizable. His body is turned to one side. Importantly, again
both his feet are turned to that one side, the left side. He wears a short skirt, possibly made of feathers or

chapter-2.indd 77 20-12-2004 14:11:18


78 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

strips of paper. Two long ornamental strips fall from the back of his belt, one of which may be a jaguars
tail. His simple belt consists of a pattern of diagonal arranged square elements. He wears a large breast
pectoral attached to a simple necklace made of a single row of beads. He also wears a large headdress that
contains a depiction of the god Chak elaborately set with feathers. Additionally he has a square ear are
and a small serpentine object attached to his nose, a rudimentary depiction of the Water Lily Serpent
mask (only the upper jaw). In his right hand he holds a sta that is bent at the end, while in his left hand
he holds two long-shafted throwing darts. The sta may thus be a very stylized spearthrower.

Based on the above extensive analysis of the evolution of a specic iconographic tradition in the Southern
Maya Lowlands, of which the roots were taken back to Machaquil at circa A.D. 800, some preliminary
observations can now be presented.
It is my contention that a specic iconographic tradition evolved within the southern area of the
Southern Maya Lowlands. In the evolution of this style or tradition the human body and other icono-
graphic details become less uid and more abstract, a common feature in many art styles among Am-
erindian populations (compare to Paternosto 2001). This new iconographic tradition seems to evolve
rst at Machaquil, which in principal was derived from a prominent style at neighboring Dos Pilas and
Aguateca (rst example dating back to circa A.D. 711). This new iconographic tradition seems to spread
within and outside its direct vicinity. In its direct vicinity it is at Seibal where the new iconographic
tradition develops further, while important examples can be found outside Machaquils direct vicin-
ity, namely in the west at Panhale and in the east at Xultn and Ucanal. Also Naranjo participated in
this style (note Stela 8 dated to 9.18.10.0.0, A.D. 800; an early predecessor of the style at this site may
be found in Stela 22, dated to 9.13.10.0.0, A.D. 702). The evolution of the innovative iconographic
tradition also may give a further clue to the original Classic area of the Itz. Only certain sites, related
epigraphically to the name or hereditary title Chanek/Kanek, share in the same iconographic tradition,
namely Seibal, Xultn, and Ucanal. At present no monument is known from Motul de San Jos from
this late period (a Chanek/Kanek, ruler of Motul de San Jos, is mentioned on Seibal Stela 10 dating
to A.D. 849). Besides the relatively limited geographical distribution of the name or hereditary title
chanek/kanek there is also the reference to itza. One of the two examples of itza was found at Motul de
San Jos. A short primary text Motul de San Jos Stela 1 can be transliterated hun tzak tok kuhul itza()
ahaw. As noted above, at Machaquil there is a ruler with the name Hun Tzak Tok. As both carry dif-
ferent Emblem Glyphs (containing either itza() or the Machaquil variable main sign), they are more
than probably not the same historical gure. However, at present the nominal phrase Hun Tzak Tok only
occurs twice in the whole corpus of Maya inscriptions, once at Motul de San Jos as the name of a kuhul
itza() ahaw, once at Machaquil as the name of a kuhul Machaquil ahaw. The two male gures on
Motul de San Jos Stela 1 are depicted in a dancing position, indicated by their bent legs and their lifted
heels. The costume of both gures contains a prominent apron, belt assemblage and pectoral. The style
of these costume elements is particularly reminiscent of the style of these elements as depicted between
A.D. 711-721 at Dos Pilas and which later evolved further at Machaquil. If this style is diagnostic of
a specic area, it may be related to the area in which rst Dos Pilas and Aguateca came to prosper, after
which Machaquil and Seibal continued and developed the same style. Recently, Schele and Mathews
(1998: 179, note 5) suggested that Seibal was a continuation or re-establishment of Dos Pilas-Aguateca,
but in their argumentation they do not incorporate Machaquil. If Motul de San Jos shared in this style
and depicted the possible foreign lord Hun Tzak Tok, this king, a kuhul itza() ahaw, may be from an
area south of Motul de San Jos.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 79

This particular region, in which the specic iconographic tradition developed, boasts another unique
nominal phrase. This nominal phrase is Siyah Kin Chak (note 24). It occurs at Machaquil as the name
of two distinct rulers and it occurs at Ucanal to probably identify the smaller gure on the left of Stela
4. It occurs also in the text of Seibal Stela 6, identifying a dierent name-sake. The nominal Siyah Kin
Chak (SIY-ya-ha-KIN-cha-ki) also occurs in the name caption of a gure, identied as an ah kuhun
worshipper(?), on Piedras Negras Lintel 1. As such the name Siyah Kin Chak (like Hun Tzak Tok) can
tenatively be allocated to the same region, which, if correct, means that itza (through Hun Tzak Tok as
mentioned at Motul de San Jos) also may pertain to the same region. That is, a specic location within
this larger region was once known as itza. This may not be as strange a conclusion as it seems on rst
hand. It should be remembered that the eastern side of the region is already associated with individuals
that carry the name or hereditary title of chanek/kanek (Xultn, Ucanal, Pusilh), a name particularly
associated with the historical Itz between A.D. 1525-1697.

The Possible Circumstances and Timing of the Itz Migration

As discussed in detail above, in the period A.D. 550-900 in the Southern Maya Lowlands, there are
specic hieroglyphic collocations that spell itza and chanek/kanek, in previous research identied as refer-
ences to the Classic ancestors of the historical Itz who had paramount rulers with the name or hereditary
title Kanek. The particular limited geographical distribution of both itza and chanek/kanek, however,
is not sucient by itself to propose a Classic Itz homeland around Lake Petn, as proposed in earlier
research (cf. Boot 1995d, 1997a, 1997c).
I continued with the analysis of a particular innovative iconographic tradition that rst evolved at
Machaquil and which was adopted over a larger area in the Southern Maya Lowlands. Examples of this
innovative iconographic tradition were found in the west at Panhale, but more closely to Machaquil it
was found at Seibal. With the arrival of Ah Balun Habtal also the new iconographic tradition arrived
at Seibal. The arrival of Ah Balun Habtal, still of parts unknown but probably of local origin, was su-
pervised by a certain Chanek/Kanek, a person said to be from Ucanal. It is also Ucanal that adopts the
innovative iconography, which is additionally adopted by Xultn, north of Ucanal, a site which can be
related to at least two examples of the nominal phrase Chanek/Kanek. The distribution of other particu-
lar nominal phrases may provide additional epigraphic indications that there was indeed a particular area
in the Southern Maya Lowlands, that is clearly associated with the origin, evolution and spread of this
innovative iconography. It is this area, in which Machaquil and Seibal on the one side and Ucanal and
Xultn on the other side are situated, that it can now be suggested with more condence to include the
probable original home of the Classic Itz. In contrast to my earlier assessments, the possible Classic Itz
territory may be located to the south and/or east of Lake Petn and it includes the lake area. Although
the precise location of the Classic Itz area itself is not known yet (and may never be), the Classic Itz did
have a kuhul ahaw god-like lord or king recognized by at least one other Classic center, namely the Itz
ruler named Hun Tzak Tok, who visited and was recorded at Motul de San Jos.

It is from this area that groups of Itz, as well as related groups, migrated to the north. In part their migra-
tion was forced by a rise in local warfare as well as a shift in the balance of power from the earlier large
Maya centers (e.g. Tikal, Calakmul) to smaller local centers in the south and southeastern part of the
Southern Maya Lowlands (cf. Boot 1997c; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998).
The principal rise in warfare in this particular area may date from the period of circa A.D. 650-675,

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80 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

when the foundation took place of the Dos Pilas-Aguateca dynasty, a spin-o from the Tikal dynasty
(cf. Houston 1993; Martin and Grube 2000; Schele and Grube 1994). The dates for Dos Pilas Ruler I
are between A.D. 623 (birth) and A.D. 692 (cf. Fahsen 2002; Houston 1993: Table 4-1). Ruler Is name
was Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil (based on certain spellings his name was Bah-l-ah Chan/Kan Kawil or
Kawil who Hammered the Sky). Many events related with these dates are of a bellicose nature (cf. Boot
2002c, 2002d; Guenter 2000b, 2003). Here follows a short chronological listing of (bellicose) events as
recorded on the steps of Dos Pilas Hieroglyphic Stairway 4 and 2 (of which recently the missing steps
were found, cf. Fahsen 2002) (H.S.=Hieroglyphic Stairway; C=central section; E=east section, W=west
section):

Monument Date Event(s) Recorded

H.S. 4, Step IV * 9.10.15.4.9,


4 Muluk 2 Kumkuh (A.D. 648) hub- (to bring down)
H.S. 2/C, Step VI * 9.10.15.4.9,
4 Muluk 2 Kumkuh (A.D. 648) cham- (to die)
H.S. 2/E, Step V * 9.10.18.2.19,
1 Kawak 17 Muwan (A.D. 650) star-over-shell
lok- (to leave)
tab- (to go to)
H.S. 2/E, Step IV * 9.11.4.5.14,
6 Hix 2 Kayab (A.D. 657) star-over-shell
lok- (to leave)
H.S. 2/E, Step II * 9.11.9.15.19,
9 Kawak 17 Yaxkin (A.D. 662) nak- (to attack)
H.S. 2/E, Step I * 9.11.11.9.17,
9 Kaban 5 Pop (A.D. 664) chuk- (to capture)
H.S. 4, Step III * 9.12.0.8.3,
4 Akbal 11 Muwan (A.D. 672) star-over-earth
H.S. 2/W, Step VI * 9.12.0.8.3,
4 Akbal 11 Muwan (A.D. 672) star-over-shell
lok- (to leave)
tab- (to go to)
H.S. 2/W, Step V * 9.12.0.16.14,
6 Hix 17 Tzek (A.D. 673) pul- (to burn)
H.S. 2/W, Step V * 9.12.1.0.3,
9 Akbal 6 Yaxkin (A.D. 673) star-over-shell
lok- (to leave)
tab- (to go to)
H.S. 2/W, Step IV * 9.12.5.9.14,
* 2 Hix *17 Muwan (A.D. 677) star-over-shell
lok- (to leave)
tab- (to go to)
H.S. 4, Step III * 9.12.5.10.1,
9 Imix 4 Pax (A.D. 677) star-over-earth

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 81

lok- (to leave)


H.S. 2/W, Step IV * 9.12.5.10.1,
9 Imix 4 Pax (A.D. 677) hul- (to arrive)
H.S. 4, Step I * 9.12.6.16.17,
11 Kaban 10 Sotz (A.D. 679) hub- (to bring down)
H.S. 2/W, Step 2 * 9.12.6.16.17,
11 Kaban 10 Sotz (A.D. 679) hub- (to bring down)
nab- kik (to pool blood)
witz- bak (to mountain skulls)

This short list provides an indication of the amount as well as the nature of the bellicose events recorded
during A.D. 648-679, a period of just over thirty years. These are the events that made it into the epi-
graphic record. Although we will never know, there might be an additional amount of events of a belli-
cose nature that did not make the epigraphic record (or still have not been found). What was the regional
impact of these events? The events as listed above (plus one additional but related event) will now be
described in more detail to provide a sense of the regional impact.
The over thirty year long episode of bellicose activities began in A.D. 648. The rst event concerned
the bringing down (hub-uy-) of the (carriers of the) int-and-shield (u-tok u-pakal) of a certain Lam
Nah Kawil. This event was supervised by Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil, kuhul ahaw of Mutal, about whom
it is written that he was the sub-lord (y-ahaw) of Yuknom Chen of Calakmul (cf. Houston and Mathews
1985; Martin and Grube 2000). A new step from Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 seems to indicate that Lam(?)
Nah Kawil of Mutal (Tikal) died on the very same date, while a lord from Pa(p)tun was taken captive
(cf. Boot 2002c; Guenter 2003). Prior to A.D. 623 the Emblem Glyph for Mutal was used exclusively
by Tikal. It should however be noted that between A.D. 557 and A.D. 682 Tikal experienced a possible
prolonged hiatus in which it did not erect any monuments (cf. Harrison 1999: 120) (see note 2). In the
second half of the sixth century Tikal suered several defeats, most prominent was its defeat by Caracol in
A.D. 562, the rst star-over-earth war event ever recorded. This star-over-earth event was supervised
or watched over by Calakmul (cf. Schele and Grube 1994: 102; cf. also Martin and Grube 2000). While
the hiatus started at Tikal due to a war event, the population of Caracol increased by some 325%,
probably due to the same event. This dramatic increase in population led to a corresponding increase in
residential construction projects, temples, and terracing of farm lands (cf. Schele and Freidel 1990: 171-
174 & note 18). The increase in population may have been due to large contingents of refugees who ed
the Tikal region, who sought asylum, and who began a new life at Caracol.
Dos Pilas may have been founded by the Mutal (Tikal) dynastic line. The recently found new steps of
Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 (central section) provide the birth date of Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil of Mutal
(Dos Pilas) in A.D. 623 as well as his accession to lordship in A.D. 635 (yax kal- hun event; see Chapter
5) at Mutal (Tikal) itself and in A.D. 643 (cham- or kam- kawil(?) event; see Chapter 5). One of the
new steps even seems to record the fact that Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil arrived from Mutal (Tikal) (ta?-li
for tal-? he arrived from ...; a new reading based on on-site inspection, as suggested by Zender and
Guenter, replacing the previous suggestion hu-li as proposed by Fahsen [2002] and followed in Boot
2002c). As some epigraphers have suggested (David Stuart, Stephen Houston, Stanley Guenter), it is
possible that Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil of Mutal (Dos Pilas) and Nun Uhol Chak of Mutal (Tikal) were
very close relatives or even brothers (cf. Boot 2002e; Fahsen 2002). The closeness or connection
between the two sites is apparent through the fact that rulers at both sites use the (U)nabnal Kinich
title, refer to the same god (Tikal Stela 5: B10, Dos Pilas Panel 18: A3, H1), and also render hommage

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82 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

to the founder Yax Eb Xok of the Mutal (Tikal) dynastic line (Dos Pilas Stela 14, nominal Yax Eb Xok
appears in headdress) (cf. Boot 2002e). The hieroglyphic text on Dos Pilas Panel 6 seems to state that
Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil was the son of a kuhul ahaw from Mutal (Tikal), perhaps the missing 23rd
or 24th Tikal ruler (Martin and Grube 2000: 56) (note 25). In A.D. 648 (thus during the late phase of
Tikals hiatus), it is Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil who is named kuhul ahaw god-like king of Mutal. In
that year he brought down the (carriers of the) int-and-shield of a certain Lam Nah Kawil, a person at
present only mentioned twice in the epigraphic record, a lord of Mutal (Tikal). Apparently in A.D. 648
Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil of Mutal (Dos Pilas) thus attacked Mutal (Tikal) and possibly started a civil
war. More importantly, in the text of Hieroglyphic Stairway 4 it is stated that Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil
was the subordinate (or vassal) lord of Yuknom Chen of Calakmul (but take note, all events are recorded
retrospectively, and Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 does not record this vassalship). Recent research suggests
that, for some long time prior to (and after) A.D. 648, Tikal and Calakmul were two antagonistic super
power polities that manipulated pan-regional networks or spheres of smaller strategically situated poli-
ties (cf. Grube and Martin 1998; Martin and Grube 1994, 1995, 2000). In A.D. 648, Calakmul seems
to penetrate the aairs of Mutal (Tikal) itself by favoring Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil. The early role of
Calakmul in this war is still not clear. In A.D. 650, there was a star-over-shell event against Dragon
Water, the main toponym of Dos Pilas, supervised by Yuknom Chen of Calakmul. Bahlah Chan Kawil
went to (tab-ay-) a site named Kinich Pawitz. The sites name is spelled KINICH-pa-a-WITZ, a
toponym that also can be found spelled as KINICH-[T299.SPLIT]WITZ and KINICH-wi-[T299.
SPLIT]WITZ, the Classic Maya name of Aguateca (cf. Boot 2002c) (after the demise of the site Dos
Pilas it is Aguateca that serves as capital of this regional power) (in regard to T299 SPLIT, note common
spelling ki-ti-pa-a as well as ki-ti-SPLIT-a for Kitpa at Xcalumkin, Panel 8: C2 [probably employing
the full form]; T299 PA also reinforces pax(il) as Classic name of the month Pax, note Kerr No. 1813
spelling pa-xi-la versus regular [T299.SPLIT]xi spellings) (cf. Boot 2004b; compare to Martin 2004).
Seven years later, in A.D. 657, there was a star-over-shell event against Mutal (Tikal), supervised (u-
kab-h--iy) by Yuknom Chen of Calakmul (note 26).

In a period of seven years Calakmul thus supervised attacks against the two Mutal polities, Tikal and Dos
Pilas. The A.D. 657 event lead to the forced exit (lok-oy-) of Nun Uhol Chak, followed by two other
related events. One involves his going (tab-ay-) to a site with an unknown name (eroded). The other
event is still of unknown meaning (nu-?-ha), but involves the mutal ahaw-tak or the Tikal kings (-tak,
a rare plural sux). In A.D. 662, there was an attack or battle led (u-nak-aw-) by Bahlah Chan/Kan
Kawil against a certain Koban Ahaw, an event performed in the company of (y-it-ah-) a certain Kalaw
Balam Ahaw at an unknown location (cf. Boot 2002c). In A.D. 664, Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil captured
(chuk-ah-) Tahal Mo, a lord of Machaquil (Martin, in Fahsen 2002). Although there is not sucient
epigraphic data, Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil, after his defeat by Calakmul, was clearly able to prepare at-
tacks and take prisoners, probably having his court at Kinich Pawitz (Aguateca). Had Bahlah Chan/Kan
Kawil already taken the side of Calakmul, or did he keep an independent course? As all information is
recorded retrospectively, there is insucient data to provide an answer to these questions. In A.D. 672
the events pick up the pace. In that year there was a star-over-earth war event against Bahlah Chan/Kan
Kawil (H.S. 4), an event also referred to as a star-over-shell war event against the main Dos Pilas to-
ponym (H.S. 2). This star-over-earth event is supervised by (u-kab-h--iy) Nun Uhol Chak, who only
is identied as a Mutalnal or Mutal person (note 27). Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil goes (tab-ay-) the
site of Chaknah, of unknown location. In A.D. 673, there is the burning (pul-uy-) of Dragon Water,
possibly the belated result of the earlier war-event in A.D. 672. In the same year of A.D. 673 (a month

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 83

later), Nun Uhol Chak supervised a war against Chaknah, and Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil is forced out
(lok-oy-) and goes to Hixwitz.

In A.D. 677, there was a star-over-shell event against the center of Pulil (of unknown location), which
now forced Nun Uhol Chak to leave (lok-oy-) (H.S. 2). Just seven days after this event there was an-
other star-over-shell event against Pulil, now supervised (u-kab-h--iy) by Yuknom Chen of Calakmul
(H.S. 4). Again it was Nun Uhol Chak who left (lok-oy-). That very same day it is Bahlah Chan/Kan
Kawil who arrived at Dragon Water and who boasted the titles of guardian (u-chan) of Tahal Mo
and kuhul ahaw of Mutal (H.S. 2). The nal event takes place in A.D. 679. This event concerns the
bringing down (hub-uy-) of the (carriers of the) ints-and-shields (u-tok u-pakal) of Nun Uhol Chak,
as well as the subsequent pooling of the blood (nab-ah u-kik-el) and mounting of the skulls (witz-ah
u-hol-il) of the Mutal warriors and kings (huxlahun tzuk mutal ahawtak 13 Provinces of Mutal kings),
both events are supervised by Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil, kuhul ahaw of Mutal. To stress his defection
(voluntarily or forced, that is still undetermined), while supervising the defeat of Nun Uhol Chaks army,
Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil impersonates the way or supernatural companion spirit of the Calakmul polity
(cf. Boot 2002e). The hub- tok pakal and subsequent nab- kik & witz- bak (deciphered rst by Stuart
and Houston) events may eectively express the destruction or annihilation of a Maya army or legion.
Similar phrases also occur at Tortuguero (Monument 6) and Naranjo (Altar 1). At Naranjo, as recorded
on Stela 23 (H13-G14), a local battle resulted in wiah u-tok u-pakal ah sail ut--iy sakha or carnage was
created (by) the (carriers of the) int-and-shield of He of Naranjo, it happened (long ago) at Sakh (cf.
Lacadena 2001, 2002; note wiil halal, wiil tok matanza grande haber en la guerra y hacerse, cf. Barrera
Vsquez et al. 1980: 923), substantiating the devastation a winning Maya army or legion could inict
(a full analysis of all events recorded on Dos Pilas Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 and 4 can be found in Boot
2002c, 2002d, and 2002e). At Dos Pilas the ruler Bahlah Chan/Kan Kawil remained in power until at
least A.D. 692, the last date associated with him, after which, according to the inscription on Dos Pilas
Stela 8 and Hieroglyphic Stairway 1, he is succeeded in A.D. 698 by his (second?) son Itzamnah Kawil
(cf. Houston 1993: 110; Mathews 1977: 5-6) (for possible reign of his [rst?] son Itzamnah Balam in
A.D. 697, cf. Martin and Grube 2000: 57-58). At Tikal the rst ocial date after the possible hiatus
(see note 2) is associated with the accession of Hasaw Chan/Kan Kawil I as kalomte in A.D. 682. Ac-
cording to the inscription of Tikal Temple I, Lintel 3, Hasaw Chan/Kan Kawil I is the son of Nun Uhol
Chak. Possibly to strengthen or legitimize his claim to the throne after the defeat of his father Nun Uhol
Chak at the hands of Dos Pilas (supervised by Calakmul), in some inscriptions Hasaw Chan/Kan Kawil
I referred back to important dynastic events that occurred at circa A.D. 378 at Tikal (see Chapter 3). It
has to be noted that Nun Uhol Chak probably did not die on the battle eld. This opinion I base on the
fact that the *9.10.15.4.9, 4 Muluk 2 Kumkuh (February 4, A.D. 648) date is recorded twice. According
to Hieroglyphic Stairway 4 (Step II) the tok pakal of Lam Nah Kawil is brought down on this date, while
according to Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 (East, Step VI) Lam(?) Nah Kawil dies on this date. While two
inscriptions at Dos Pilas record the crushing defeat of the tok pakal of Nun Uhol Chak (H.S. 2/W, Step
III; H.S. 4, Step I), there is no record of his death on this particular date or a date close to this defeat.

The above summary provides a sense of the regional impact these specic war events had within the
Southern Maya Lowlands, although places as Koban (possibly a reference to present-day Cobn in the
Verapaz area, cf. Schele and Grube 1994: 126), Chaknah, Pa(p)tun, Hixwitz (possibly La Florida, as
suggested by Stanley Guenter and Alexandre Safronov, personal communication, November 7, 2002
[7th EMC, London]), and Pulil still have not been securely located. There is is site named Pululh near

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84 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Lake Petn, as observed by Guenter (2003), who prefers a transliteration Pulul to Pulil for the spellings
pu-lu-li and [PUL]li. I prefer Pulil for the Classic period (an -il locative sux is common in Classic
Maya), while the vowel harmonic Pulul may be a later innovation. This vowel harmonization may also
be observed in the change of Mutal, spelled (mu-)MUT(-la), to Mutul (the reading of the main sign
of the Tikal and Dos Pilas Emblem Glyph, as preferred by some epigraphers). These war events may
have generated dierent groups of people that ed the area and migrated to safer or new areas inside
and outside the central area of the Southern Maya Lowlands. Although these inscriptions only provide
high-lights or head-lines and only present information on the main protagonists, what happened
(lok- to leave; to force out, tab- to go to) to these high elite persons may also apply to larger groups
of people in the region. These prolonged periods of war in the greater Petexbatn area may have had a
serious impact on the political and economic stability of neighboring areas and groups of people living
in those areas. Several of those groups may have consisted of people who referred to themselves as Ah
Itz, Those from Itz. Yet others stayed behind in the area and also still referred to themselves as Ah
Itz. The events described here, based on the evidence at hand, seem to direct to a very volatile society
(as such note short periods of monument construction indicative of short-lived coherent local political,
ideological, and economic systems) that is highly dynamic in its approaches to solve the recurring stress
on its members. One of the approaches to relieve this stress is migration. In world history also for other
people prolonged warfare contributed to their migration; for instance in Europe, in the fourth and fth
century A.D. it was a contributing reason for the Anglo-Saxons to migrate from Denmark and northern
Germany to the British isles.
Also the period after A.D. 679 does see a sucient amount of bellicose activities in the larger Ro
Pasin-Petexbatn area. For example, according to Aguateca Stela 2 and Dos Pilas Stela 16 a star-over-
shell event was waged over Seibal on *9.15.4.6.4, 8 Kan 17 Muwan (A.D. 735), while one day later
at *9.15.4.6.5, 9 Chikchan 18 Muwan the writing (u-tzib, a reference to the inscribed monuments) at
Seibal was broken, literally decapitated (chak-). Apparently its ruler Yichak Balam was captured, as
seven days later (counted from the opening date) on *9.15.4.6.11, 2 Chuwen 4 Pax, this ruler was ritually
adorned (naw-ah-), possibly to be sacriced (cf. Houston 1993; Matthews 1994b). Dos Pilas not only
engaged in war with its direct neighbors, but it also took captives from sites as Yaxchiln, Motul de San
Jos, and El Chorro (Dos Pilas, H.S. 3: Step I , II & III, cf. Houston 1993: 117, Fig. 4-23). Not all rela-
tionships of Dos Pilas were malign, to which attest the attendance to its court made by high dignitaries
from sites as Cancun in the south, the important site of Kanal (Calakmul) in the north, and the Mutal
polity itself (Dos Pilas Panel 19, cf. Houston 1993: 115, Fig. 4-19). The principal sites belonging to the
Dos Pilas-Aguateca side of the Mutal dynastic hegemony as well as sites participating in events in the area
all fell silent in a relative short period:

Site Monument Last Dedicatory Date Julian Date

Dos Pilas Stela 4 9.15.11.00.00 A.D. 742


Tamarindito Hieroglyphic Stairs 9.16.11.07.13 A.D. 762
El Chorro Altar 4 9.17.00.00.00 A.D. 771
Altar de Sacricios Stela 15 9.17.00.00.00 A.D. 771
Aguateca New Monument 9.18.03.00.17 A.D. 793
La Amelia Panel 1 9.18.17.01.13 A.D. 807
Itzn Stela 6 9.19.19.16.00 A.D. 830

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 85

It is especially after the fall of Dos Pilas and Aguateca that Machaquil (in A.D. 800) begins the erection
of its second series of monuments, while Seibal (in A.D. 849) again begins well after the last dates of those
two sites. The many wars fought in the region prior to circa A.D. 800, to which further attest the defense
systems at Dos Pilas, Aguateca, and Punta de Chimino (cf. Demarest 1996; Demarest et al. 1996), may
thus have generated dierent groups of refugees each associated with a dierent period.

After the fall of the Dos Pilas-Aguateca area sites it takes only a couple of generations for the remaining
sites to fall silent. In respect to the area discussed above, these are the nal dates on monuments for the
southern region of the Southern Maya Lowlands:

Site Monument Last Dedicatory Date Julian Date

Cancun Stela 1 09.18.10.00.00 A.D. 800


Ixkun Stela 5 09.18.10.00.00 A.D. 800
Machaquil Stela 5 10.00.10.17.15 A.D. 840
Seibal Stela 20 10.03.00.00.00 A.D. 889

For the eastern region of the Southern Maya Lowlands, the following last dates can be found recorded:

Site Monument Last Dedicatory Date Julian Date

Naranjo Stela 32 09.19.10.00.00 A.D. 820


Ucanal Stela 4 10.01.00.00.00 A.D. 849
Xunantunich Stela 1 10.01.00.00.00 A.D. 849
Xultn Stela 10 10.03.00.00.00 A.D. 889

This does not mean that the area in which these sites are located was completely abandoned. As indicated
earlier, at many sites there are clear indications that there remained a large resident population, sometimes
even long after the cessation of monument erection and large public monumental building activities.

2.3.2 The Itz and the Northern Maya Lowlands, circa A.D. 650-1450

Through the above epigraphic and iconographic analysis it can be contended that there is a particular
region in the Southern Maya Lowlands that once may have been occupied by the Classic ancestors of the
Itz. Specic collocations spelling chanek/kanek and itza as well as the internal development of a particu-
lar regional iconographic tradition seem to direct to a region south and/or southeast of Lake Petn, in-
cluding the central lake area. In this region there was a long tradition of warfare, the origin of which dates
back to a period of circa A.D. 647-679, when a new dynasty established itself in the Ro Pasin-Petex-
batn area. These wars, as well as war related activities in earlier and later decennia, may have generated
dierent groups of refugees. These refugees may have sought asylum inside as well as outside the Southern
Maya Lowlands. If the Itz indeed inhabited this area, they may have been among the refugees. If correct,
where did these refugees go to? As proposed in earlier research, these Itz refugees migrated to an area in
which they founded Chichn Itz, the largest Maya center in the central plains of the Northern Maya
Lowlands (cf. Boot 1995d, 1996a 1997c, 1999e Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews

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86 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

1998). Most importantly, at Chichn Itz, at which site the inscriptions provide dates between circa A.D.
832-998, collocations have been identied that provide transliterations chanek/kanek and itza.

In contrast to the Southern Maya Lowlands there is an additional source of information on the history
of the Northern Maya Lowlands. During the Colonial period (circa A.D. 1519-1850) many reports were
written by members of both the Spanish colonial government and clergy on indigenous customs, religion
and history. More importantly, Maya specialists in religion, history and politics left us detailed records
of their own aairs in their own languages. These records, in alphabetic script, contain many references
on the Itz. Most prominent among these alphabetical sources are the so-called Books of Chilam Balam
written in the Yucatec Maya language. The part Chilam Balam is derived from the occurrence of the
Yucatec title chilam spokesman, speaker combined with balam jaguar in a prophecy as contained in
these books. It was the title of an important pre-Conquest prophet (Roys 1933: 3, Appendix D). In the
Classic Maya period there was a title chihlam (spelled chi-hi-la-ma, cf. Kerr No. 1728; Boot 2002a 27),
which may be a precursor to the class of the chilam in Northern Yucatn. The Books of Chilam Balam
are named after the town from which they come, such as Man, Chumayel, Tizimn, and Kau (cf. Ba-
rrera Vsquez and Rendn 1982 [1948]; Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949; Craine and Reindorf 1979;
Edmonson 1982, 1986; Roys 1933). Several passages within these books provide extensive references to
the Itz. As we have seen above, passages from these Books of Chilam Balam have been of importance in
earlier research on the reconstruction of the history of the site of Chichn Itz in specic as well as the role
of the Itz in Maya history in general (cf. Thompson 1954, 1966, 1970; Tozzer 1930, 1957).
There are two kinds of passages in these Books of Chilam Balam that specically contain dated refer-
ences to the Itz. The rst kind consists of passages that generally are referred to as the katun chronicles
(V kahlay u xocan katunob the chronicle of the counting of the katuns; VkahlaY Katunob the
chronicle of the katuns; Lai u tzolan katun this is the ordering of the katun). The second kind
consists of passages generally referred to as katun prophecies. Additionally there are numerous refer-
ences on the Itz outside these particular passages. The katun chronicles provide a continuous listing
of katun periods correlated with historical events. The katun prophecies provide a cycle of prophecies
associated with each particular katun period, based on past events associated with the particular katun in
question. Katun is a Yucatec Maya word that refers to a calendrical period of twenty tuns, each tun hav-
ing 360 days (katun is probably derived from *kaltun, in which kal is twenty and tun period of 360
days). As such a katun period covers about twenty years. Each katun period is named for the last day
on which it ends. Due to the regularity of the Maya calendar this day is always ahaw. Each katun period
is identied by a coecient from 1 to 13 and the day name ahaw. The regularity of the Maya calendar
also determines the order of the thirteen named katun periods. A katun ending in 8 Ahaw is followed by
a katun ending in 6 Ahaw, which is followed by 4 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw, 13 Ahaw, 11 Ahaw, 9 Ahaw, 7 Ahaw,
5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw, 1 Ahaw, 12 Ahaw, 10 Ahaw, after which follows again a katun ending in 8 Ahaw. Math-
ematically, 20 times 360 days results in a period of 7,200 days; 7200 divided by 13 leaves a remainder
of 11 (from 8 Ahaw to 6 Ahaw: 8+11 = 19-13 = 6, etc.). If katun endings are correlated with a position
in the Long Count or Initial Series, their general position is dened as x.x.0.0.0, x Ahaw. Thus, there are
0 days, 0 winals, and 0 tuns recorded. The x marks the amount of baktuns and katuns elapsed as
well as the coecient of the day name Ahaw. However, in the Books of Chilam Balam there are no Long
Counts used, not even the month positions are given, only the Ahaw positions of the katun endings. As
such there is no other calendar mechanism to directly correlate the katun periods with Christian dates,
as every named katun reoccurs every 13 katuns, producing an ever repeating cycle of circa 256 years.
How can these katun periods be placed in the Long Count, and with the dierent Long Counts known,

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 87

how can these be correlated with Christian dates? For this purpose two tables have been developed. The
rst table contains a list of all possible placements of named katun Ahaw periods between A.D. 514-534
and A.D. 1776-1796 (Table 2.1). This rst table covers a large part of the Classic period, deep into the
Colonial period. The second table provides a listing of all katun ending Long Counts, correlated with the
named katun ending and the Christian year in which it falls, between 9.0.0.0.0, 8 Ahaw (A.D. 435) and
12.19.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw (A.D. 1993) (Table 2.2). The Christian (Gregorian calendar) year is calculated by
using the 584,285 correlation constant (cf. Lounsbury 1982; Thompson 1927b, 1935). Through these
tables it can be seen that for example a katun 8 Ahaw occurs at A.D. 672-692 (9.12.0.0.1-9.13.0.0.0),
A.D. 928-948 (10.5.0.0.1-10.6.0.0.0), A.D. 1185-1204 (10.18.0.0.1-10.19.0.0.0), A.D. 1441-1461
(11.11.0.0.1-11.12.0.0.0), as well as at A.D. 1697-1717 (12.4.0.0.1-12.5.0.0.0).

The rst chronicle ever published was the chronicle contained in the Book of Chilam Balam of Man. It
was published in 1843 in its original Yucatec Maya text with English translation. The original chronicle
was found by Don Juan Po Prez, who put a copy of the text with a Spanish translation at the disposal
of John L. Stephens. It was Stephens who published the chronicle as an appendix to his two volume
Incidents of Travel in Yucatan (Stephens 1963 [1843], vol. 2: 323-327) (see Chapter 1). Po Prez not
only translated the Yucatec Maya text, he correlated all events ascribed to any katun with a Christian
date, basing himself on the fact that each katun period itself had a duration of 24 years. Po Prez also had
collected Yucatec Maya texts in which the katun was allocated 24 years instead of the normal circa 20
years. As such the Man chronicle started in A.D. 144 (with a katun named 8 Ahaw) and ended in A.D.
1536 (with a katun named 11 Ahaw).
In 1868 Carl Hermann Berendt copied the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, while in 1870 a
copy of the Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimn was sent to bishop Carillo y Ancona (cf. Barrera Vsquez
and Morley 1949; Barrera Vsquez and Rendn 1982 [1948]; Brinton 1882; Edmonson 1982; Roys
1933). Eventually the original of the Chumayel became part of the Berendt Archive in Pennsylvania,
while the original of the Tizimn can now be found at the Museo Nacional de Antropologa e Historia
in Mexico City. The Po Prez original of the Man is still in private hands in Mrida. Both these new
Books of Chilam Balam contained additional chronicles and prophecies. After the death of Berendt his
collection came in the possession of Daniel Brinton. In 1882 it was Brinton who rst published in one
volume the ve chronicles from these three books as well as the Chronicle of Chac Xulub Chen. Each
chronicle was published in his transcription of the Yucatec Maya text and was followed by an annotated
translation into English, except for the Man chronicle, this was the rst time ever that these were pub-
lished. Like Po Prez, Brinton suggested a correlation with Christian dates. His reconstructed Synopsis
of Maya Chronology covers 71 separate katun periods with a suggested duration of 1420 years to 1704
years (depending on a katun period lasting 20 or 24 years) (Brinton 1882: 81-88) (see Appendix A). The
following list provides the names of some of the dierent researchers who proposed correlations between
the katun periods in the chronicles and Christian dates:

Researcher(s) Year of Publication Books of Chilam Balam Used

Po Prez 1843 Man


Brinton 1882 Chumayel-Man-Tizimn
Roys 1933 Chumayel
Barrera Vsquez and Rendn 1948 Chumayel-Man-Tizimn
Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949 Chumayel-Man-Tizimn

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88 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Thompson 1954 (2nd ed., 1966) Chumayel-Man-Tizimn


Tozzer 1957 Chumayel-Man-Tizimn
Thompson 1970 Chumayel-Man-Tizimn
Edmonson 1982 Tizimn
Edmonson 1986 Chumayel
Schele 1995 Chumayel-Man-Tizimn
Schele, Grube, and Boot 1995 (rst version) Chumayel-Man-Tizimn
Schele, Grube, and Boot 1996 (revised version) (published in 1998)
Boot 1997c Chumayel-Man-Tizimn
Schele and Mathews 1998 Chumayel-Man-Tizimn

There is sometimes a substantial dierence between the suggested calendrical placements by the rst ten
lines of authors and the last ve lines of authors. The rst ten lines of authors only used internal evidence
and other colonial sources to suggest calendrical placements for the katun periods. The last ve lines of
authors additionally included a wide range of dated historical information from Classic Maya inscrip-
tions. As such the chronology originally suggested in Schele, Grube, and Boot in 1995 became the rst
Long Count based chronology for the Maya area that integrated historical information from both the
inscriptions and the ethnohistorical sources for both the Northern and the Southern Maya Lowlands.
The katun chronicles have fascinated researchers since the middle of the nineteenth century. It has
been suggested that these chronicles either were based on originals once written in hieroglyphic signs
or that these chronicles were based on oral historical traditions (e.g. Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949:
10). As any reader of the chronicles may conclude, there is a high level of similarity between the ve
chronicles. Undeniably, the versions of the Books of Chilam Balam that have survived, came to us as
nal versions after centuries of copying and editing by individual writers, but already Brinton remarked
that

[t]his similarity may be explained by two suppositions; either they are copies from a common original, or they
present the facts they narrate in general formulae which had been widely adopted by the priests for commit-
ting to memory their ancient history. The dierences which we nd in them preclude the former hypothesis
except as it may apply to the rst two [here Brinton refers to the rst two chronicles he analyzes, the Man and
Tizimn]. The similarities in the others I believe are no more than would occur in relating the same incidents
which had been learned through xed forms of narration (Brinton 1882: 82).

Bolles provided a similar remark on the contents of the other parts of the Books of Chilam:

[...] that much of the prognosticatory material in the Books of Chilam shows a certain uniformity in writing
style (grammar, vocabulary, phraseology, etc.). While it is tempting to ascribe this uniformity to the work of a
single person, this uniformity could also be the result of an educational system in which much of the learning
was done by rote (Bolles, cited in Acua 1995: 287).

The same remark on similarity could be made about the general contents of Classic Maya hieroglyphic
texts, as there is a great uniformity in writing style, through which we now can penetrate its grammar (cf.
Houston, Robertson, and Stuart 2000, 2001; Stuart, Houston, and Robertson 1999), vocabulary (e.g.
Boot 2002a), and phraseology (standardized phrases in writing, for example: accession of kings hoy- ta/ti
ahaw-lel, cham-/kam- kawil, war hub- tok pakal, chuk-, period-endings chok- chah, erection of monu-

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 89

ments tzap- u-lakam-tun, etc.). No epigrapher would suggest single authorship of the entire corpus of
Classic Maya hierolyphic texts, although single artistic hands responsible for multiple texts have been
detected (e.g. Boot 1997e, 1999b; Kerr and Kerr 1988; Robiscek and Hales 1981; Tate 1992; Van Stone
2002).
Recently it has been suggested that the Yucatec Maya chronicles specically were modeled after a Eu-
ropean form of recording historical events referred to as annals (cf. Gunsenheimer 2000, 2001, 2002:
107). Indeed, the European recording technique named annals is close to the Yucatec Maya version
here referred to as katun chronicle. In an annal a calendrical annotation precedes a general or specic
description of some historical event. Sometimes the calendrical annotations are only mentioned, no
historical information is given. But is the linear recording of calendrical annotations (katuns) followed
by historical information in the Books of Chilam Balam indeed borrowed from a European tradition of
recording history? I strongly contend it is not. In her study Gunsenheimer (2000, 2001, 2002) does not
refer to the dierent methods of recording calendrical placements followed by historical information
known from the Maya inscriptions between circa A.D. 292 (Tikal, Stela 29) to A.D. 998 (Chichn Itz,
High Priests Grave, Pillar 4). Many inscriptions in the Maya area open with a Long Count or Initial
Series combined with a Calendar Round. Other inscriptions open with a Calendar Round that can be
correlated to a Long Count or Initial Series placement. After the Maya date (the calendrical annotation)
historical information follows (events, protagonists, locations). The dating method used in the katun
chronicles is a partial survival of a dating method known from a wide range of inscriptions, especially
in the Northern Maya Lowlands at sites as Xcalumkin, Uxmal, Ek Balam, and Chichn Itz. This dat-
ing method, rst correctly deciphered by Thompson (1937), is the so-called katun Ahaw method. In
this indigenous calendrical method a Calendar Round date is connected to the tun period in which it
fell, correlated to the coming katun ending (see Graa-Behrens 2002 for the most recent discussion of
this calendrical method). For example, at Chichn Itz the Temple of the Four Lintels, Lintel 1 text (see
Chapter 4) provides an opening Calendar Round date at positions [A1-B3] of 9 Lamat 11 Yax, placed
within the thirteenth tun of (katun) 1 Ahaw, which can only be correlated with *10.2.12.1.8, 9 Lamat
11 Yax, or July 9, A.D. 881. The katun ending is on *10.3.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw in A.D. 889. This particu-
lar dating method provides a Calendar Round with a unique Long Count or Initial Series placement,
between 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 8 Kumkuh (a date in 3114 B.C.) and 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 3 Kankin (a
date in A.D. 2012). There are simply no calendrical alternatives possible (cf. Boot 2000d). The katun
chronicles in the Books of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Tizimn, and Man only use the katun endings,
which provide, as noted above, a simple cycle of 13 katun periods covering circa 256 years (more cor-
rectly 13 x 20 x 360 days, or 256 years and 160 days). Sometimes a specic tun within a katun is men-
tioned. A katun period as recorded in the Books of Chilam Balam thus refers to a circa twenty year period
named after the last day of that period. For example, a katun 4 Ahaw ran from A.D. 711 (9.14.0.0.1,
7 Imix) to A.D. 731 (9.15.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw). Although the recording of events related to consecutive katun
periods is rare in Classic Maya inscriptions, at the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque one can nd
a particular important example (Schele and Mathews 1998: 104-106). As mentioned earlier, in Classic
Maya the word for katun was probably winikhab (or winiktun) and it was a very important measuring
instrument throughout the Classic period. Stelae were dedicated to the katun ending dates or other dates
were linked to a katun ending date. At Tikal the so-called Twin-pyramid Complexes may even have
been dedicated to katun ceremonies (Martin and Grube 2000: 51). The katun period not only was an
anchor for large scale historical events, but also in personal history. The recording of a certain number
of katuns indicated the range of time elapsed since birth for the holding of specic titles by a ruler (e.g.
hux winikhab/tun ahaw three katun king, i.e. a king between circa 40 and 60 years as measured from his

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90 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

date of birth) (based on discussion by the author with Gunsenheimer at the 6th EMC, December 2001,
Hamburg).
To conclude, the chronicles in the Books of Chilam Balam employ a traditional indigenous calendrical
method to record historical events. The historical correctness of the events recorded in these chronicles
has to be veried by providing an extensive comparison of the chronicles themselves as well as with other
sources of information. Now follows an analysis of those passages from the chronicles that specically
deal with the arrival of the Itz in Northern Yucatn.

The Arrival Events of the Itz in Yucatn

The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel contains three katun chronicles, the Tizimn contains one
katun chronicle, as does the Man. No use is made of the reconstructed Yucatec Maya texts (with trans-
lations), as suggested by Barrera Vsquez and Rendn in 1948 and Barrera Vsquez and Morley in 1949
(and as used in Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998). Only the original texts of the ve chronicles are used.
The complete transcriptions and my translations of the chronicles from the Books of Chilam Balam can
be found in Appendix A. In this and following sections I will be concerned mainly with specic passages
pertaining to the dierent migrations of the Itz and their probable calendrical placements within the
chronicles (note 28). How do the katun chronicles begin in the Books of Chilam Balam? The First
Chumayel Chronicle opens with the following passage:

//74// V kahlay u xocan katunob: uchci u chictahal u chi


05 chheen ytza: uchi lae: lay dziban ti cab lae: u
chebal yoheltabal tumen hijmac yolah yohel
ta u xocol katun lae---------------------------------------

VI Vac ahau uch ci u chictahal uchichheenytza


IIII Can ahau lae
10 II Cabil ahau
XIII Oxlahun ahau tzolci pop
XI Buluc ahau
IX Bolon ahau
VII Vuc ahau
15 V Ho ahau
III Ox ahau
I Hun ahau.
XII Lahca ahau.
X Lahun ahau
[...]
(Gordon 1913: MS 74, lines 4-19)

//74// The chronicle of the counting of the katuns. Occurred the discovery of the mouth
05 of the well of the Itz. It occurred. Here it is written for this country, the
happenings, the facts, so any person he senses, he understands,
the count of the katuns.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 91

VI 6 Ahaw, occurred the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz.


IIII 4 Ahaw
10 II 2 Ahaw
XIII 13 Ahaw, was set in order the mat.
XI 11 Ahaw
IX 9 Ahaw
VII 7 Ahaw
15 V 5 Ahaw
III 3 Ahaw
I 1 Ahaw
XII 12 Ahaw
X 10 Ahaw
[...]
(translation by the author)

The chronicle opens with an allusion to the occurrence (uchci [it] occurred; [it] happened) of the
discovery (u chictahal) of the mouth of the well (u chichheen) of Itz (itza) and why it is written
down (MS 74, lines 4-7). In Yucatec Maya the root chic,t is glossed as buscar, while chictahal can
be found glossed as hallar buscando (cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 98, as chik,t, chiktahal). Luxton
(1995: 147, line 3330), without an argument to explain his translation, uses rediscovery, which I hold
to be incorrect, but later favors discovery (Luxton 1995: 147, line 3337). Earlier translations suggest
that the actual discovery of Chichn Itz itself took place (e.g. Barrera and Morley 1949: 30; Brinton
1882: 158; Mediz Bolio 1987 [1930]: 87; Roys 1933: 135), with Chichn Itz as the name of the ruined
site. The text specically states that the (u) mouth (chi) of the well (chheen) of Itz (itza) is
discovered. The part chi mouth may refer to the surroundings of the well, not just the opening. The
phrase chi chheen possibly can be compared to the common Classic Maya toponym marker Chanchen
Place of the Well (see Chapter 3). This Classic Maya toponymic marker can be found placed in front
as well as after the main toponym of some Classic Maya sites (e.g. Huxwitik Chanchen [Copn, Stela J:
Block 36], Chanchen Huxwitik [Copn, Stela 10: D9-D10], Mutal Chanchen [Tikal Marcador: B9],
Chanchen Mutal [Tikal, Stela 31: H23-G24]). At Chichn Itz, in all probability the place name refers
to the large cenote generally known as the Cenote de Sacricios (Relacin de la villa de Valladolid,
dated to April 9, A.D. 1579, cf. De la Garza et al. 1983, vol. 2: 17 [line 39], 38), not to the smaller
Xtoloc cenote also to be found at this site. This well, a large sink hole or tzonot (but here referred to as
a chheen) is probably the most impressive natural feature at Chichn Itz. In the present day among
the local population the site of Chichn Itz is also known as Chen Ku(h) Well of God, stressing the
supreme importance of the well. It was here at the mouth of the well that the city later named Chichn
Itz would be founded. In this toponym Itz (itza) may function as a reference to the people named Ah
Itz (ah ytzaob, Tizimn, fol. 18v, line 14) or Ah Itz Winikob (ah ytza uinicob, Chumayel, MS 73,
line 8), in which the general or male prex ah he/person (who is) from ... or the stem winikob men
has been deleted. Most, if not all, translations do introduce itza to function as an ethnonym. Fray Diego
de Landa provides the most often cited passage on the meaning of the name of the city of Chichn Itz,
in which Itz functions as an ethnonym:

[...] como hizieron los Ahizaes con Chicheniza que quiere dezir el pozo de los Aizaes [...] (Landa 1566: fol. 5r,
lines 38-39; Landa 1986: 13; Tozzer 1941: 26).

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92 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

In his summary manuscript Landa always refers to the A[h]izaes as the ethnonym, with the prexed
A[h], never simply as *[I]zaes. Additionally, he does not provide an explanation why the prex A[h]
does not occur in the name of the city of Chicheniza. As such alternatively, itza may simply be
toponymic and name the specic locale or region in which the mouth (i.e. surroundings) of the well
is located, much like itza in the Southern Maya Lowlands. The Relacin de Valladolid provides an
alternative rationale for the name of the city:

llamase chichinia a ymitaion que vn ydolo/yndio que al pie del cenote del sacricio bibia se llamaba alquin
ytza [...] (Relacin de Valladolid, dated April 8, A.D. 1579; in De la Garza et al. 1983, vol. 2: 17 [lines 39-
41], 38).

This relacin provides the title alquin ytza for ah kin itza, a title containing the common title ah kin
for priest and itza, a toponymic item possibly referring to the fact that this particular priest belonged
or came from a territory named itza. If correctly deduced, than also itza/iza/ytza functions as a to-
ponym in the same sense as itza functioned as a toponym in the Southern Maya Lowlands. This would
mean that this area in the Northern Maya Lowlands at one time (i.e. Late Classic to Postclassic period)
was conceived to be itza and that the toponym Chichn Itz means (At the) Mouth of the Well of Itz
(note 29).
The discovery took place in a katun 6 Ahaw (MS 74, line 8). If one turns to Table 2.1 and 2.2, it can
be seen that a katun 6 Ahaw occurred at A.D. 435-455 (9.0.0.0.1-9.1.0.0.0), A.D. 692-711 (9.13.0.0.1-
9.14.0.0.0), A.D. 948-968 (10.6.0.0.1-10.7.0.0.0), A.D. 1204-1224 (10.19.0.0.1-11.0.0.0.0), as well as
A.D. 1461-1480 (11.12.0.01-11.13.0.0.0). However, which of these katuns 6 Ahaw is the correct one?
The Tizimn Chronicle also provides information on the same event:

//18v// Vaxac ahau - vac ahau - Can ahau - cabil ahau. ca


kal haab ca tac hum ppel hab tu hum pis tun ah oxlahun a
hau, oxlahun ahau - vaxac ahau - vac ahau - can ahau,
kuch ci chac nabiton mekat tutul xiu, hum ppel hab ma ti ho
kal hab = vaxac ahau - uch cuchican pahalchichhen ytza uchcu
10 chic pahaltzucubte sian canlae - Can ahau, cabil ahau,
oxlahun ahau - lai tzolci pop - buluc ahau - bolon ahau
vuc ahau - ho ahau - ox ahau - hun ahau - [...]
(Mayer 1980b: fol. 23v [18v], lines 5-12)

//18v// 8 Ahaw, 6 Ahaw, 4 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw, two


score years and one measured year on the rst measured tun of 13
Ahaw. 13 Ahaw, 8 Ahaw, 6 Ahaw, 4 Ahaw,
then arrived at Chaknabitn Mekat Tutul Xiw, one measured year less than ve
score years. 8 Ahaw, occurred the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz,
10 occurred the discovery of Tzukubte Siyan Kan. 4 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw
13 Ahaw, was set in order the mat. 11 Ahaw, 9 Ahaw
7 Ahaw, 5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw, 1 Ahaw, [...]
(translation by the author)

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 93

This chronicle opens with a reference to a dierent migration (that of the tutul xiu), which lies outside
the scope of the present study (cf. Schele, Grube and Boot 1998) (see also Appendix A). It contains,
however, a phrase in which a katun 8 Ahaw is connected to the discovery of the mouth of the well of
Itz (MS 18v, lines 8-9). Here chican pahal is used, which can be compared to colonial Yucatec Maya
chicpahal and chicaanpahal, also with the meaning hallar buscando (cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980:
98 as chikpahal, chikanpahal). In her translation of the Tizimn, Makemson (1951: 68) translated the
discovery phrase as made itself powerful, which I consider to be an incorrect translation, especially
within the context of the beginning of this chronicle as well as the other chronicles. The rst discovery,
as preferred here, in katun 8 Ahaw is followed by a second discovery, namely the discovery of Tzukubte
Siyan Kan or Province or Grove (tzukubte) Born (siyan) of the Sky (kan) (cf. Barrera Vsquez et al.
1980: 291, 735, 867). This second discovery does not refer to an alternative name for the Chichn Itz
area (it has been interpreted as a couplet structure, cf. Edmonson 1982: 5, lines 21-26), but it refers to
an area in the east. It is in this case the Man Chronicle that provides the pertinent information regarding
its exact location:

Lai tun uchci u chicpahal tzucub te ziyan caan lae Bak


halal, can ahau, cabil ahau, oxlahun ahau, ox kal haab
cu tepalob ziyaan caan ca emob uay lae: lay u habil cu
//135// tepalob bakhalal ahchuulte lai tun chicpahci chichhen itza lae: 60 a.s.
Buluc ahau, bolon ahau, vuc ahau, ho ahau, ox ahau
[...]
(Craine and Reindorf 1979: 134, lines 24-26 - 135, lines 1-2)

This time occurred the discovery of Tzukubte Siyan Kan, that is,
Bakhalal. 4 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw, 13 Ahaw, three scores of years
they ruled at Siyan Kan, then they descended there. This is the year they
//135// ruled at Bakhalal the Ah Chuulte. This period they discovered Chichn Itz, that is,
60 years.
11 Ahaw, 9 Ahaw, 7 Ahaw, 5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw [...]
(translation by the author)

The text opens with a statement on the discovery (uchci u chicpahal), followed by a calendrical se-
quence of can ahau, cabil ahau, oxlahun ahau. This means that the discovery took place in a previous
katun, in this case previous to katun 4 Ahaw, namely a katun 6 Ahaw. Only this placement explains the
order and the amount of years they ruled before they left for Chichn Itz to discover it in a katun
13 Ahaw.
In this passage Tzukubte Siyan Kan is additionally identied through Bakhalal Surrounded (bak)
by Reed (halal) (Brinton 1882: 124; Roys 1957: 159, cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 175). Bakhalal is
the original name for an area that was referred to by the Spaniards as Bacalar, also the name of a frontier
town christened Salamanca de Bacalar, the Spanish version of Bakhalal (cf. Barrera Vsquez and Morley
1949: 29, 31; Jones 1989: 13-14; Jones 1998: 39, note 40). Today it is the name of a lagoon or lake
just west of the Bay of Chetumal. The complete name of this area according to the Man Chronicle may
have been Tzukubte Siyan Kan Bakhalal, Province or Grove, Born of the Sky, Surrounded by Reed.
ah
In a next sentence Bakhalal is referred to as Bakhalal Ah Chuulte. The part chuulte was only in-
terpreted as chuulte (cf. Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949: 30), in which chuulte, following Barrera

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94 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

and Morley (1949: 30), can be translated as lake (cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 114, see chul haa,
chulub). However, the part ah, which was specically added by Po Prez in his manuscript, has not
been included in their translation. Its function can easily be explained. The general or male agentive prex
ah means he who is from ... and commonly opens titles of origin in Yucatec Maya (Barrera Vsquez
et al. 1980: 3). If correct, [ah]chuulte means he of the lake (chuulte) and thus may specify who ruled
at Bakhalal, namely they or those of the lake (in this case the plural sux -ob is not recorded, which
frequently happens in the Chilam Balam texts). A reconstructed sentence lay u habil cu tepalob Bakhalal
[ah]chuulte[ob] may thus translate this is the year (in the sense of period) they ruled (at) Bakhalal,
Those from the Lake. Although it is tempting to suggest that chuulte may refer to another lake than
Bakhalal (namely Lake Petn Itz), it functions well as a title of origin for those who ruled at Bakhalal,
near a lagoon or lake itself, and who simply were referred to as They or Those of the Lake.
In the Man chronicle it is stated that they ruled for 60 years at Siyan Kan Bakhalal before they went
to discover Chichn Itz. Interestingly, here the writer does not use a pronoun u (as in uchichheen
ytza). As indicated in a previous study, the group at Siyan Kan Bakhalal may have been a dierent Itz
group who rst migrated to the Bacalar-Chetumal area, and after sixty years went to Chichn Itz, that is,
in a katun 13 Ahaw (Boot 1997c: 174, Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 412; Schele and Mathews 1998:
366). As Chichn Itz was founded 60 to 80 years earlier (simultaneously or after the discovery of the
mouth of the well), this particular group may indeed have discovered the place now named Chichn
Itz (in the sense that they arrived at the city).

In the passage from the Man Chronicle, the discovery of Siyan Kan Bakhalal is not associated with
a katun 8 Ahaw as in the Tizimn Chronicle, but with a katun 6 Ahaw. This can be compared to the
discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz, according to one chronicle taking place in a katun 8 Ahaw
(Tizimn Chronicle), in a katun 6 Ahaw (First Chumayel Chronicle), or even in katun 4 Ahaw (Second
Chumayel Chronicle, see below).
Of importance here is the fact that the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz, as related in the
Tizimn Chronicle cited earlier above, took place in a katun 8 Ahaw, which occurred, with information
of Table 2.1 and 2.2 combined, at circa A.D. 415-435 (8.19.0.0.1-9.0.0.0.0), A.D. 672-692 (9.12.0.0.1-
9.13.0.0.0), A.D. 928-958 (10.5.0.0.1-10.6.0.0.0), A.D. 1185-1204 (10.18.0.0.1-10.19.0.0.0), as well
as A.D. 1441-1461 (11.11.0.0.1-11.12.0.0.0). The First Chumayel and Tizimn Chronicle refer to a sim-
ilar event, namely the discovery of the well of Itz. This indicates that katun 8 Ahaw and katun 6 Ahaw
could be consecutive katuns. If correct, which of the calendrical placements would be the correct one? It
is here that the previous section on the Southern Maya Lowlands is of importance. One particular region,
in the south to southeast of the Southern Maya Lowlands could be related with occurrences of the name
or hereditary title chanek/kanek as well as the possible toponym itza. This region was also related to the
specic development of an innovative iconographic tradition (Machaquil-Seibal-Ucanal). Additionally,
the Ro Pasin-Petexbatn area within this particular region witnessed a dramatic increase in bellicose
activities starting with the period A.D. 647-679 (LC: 9.10.15.4.9-9.12.6.16.17). If indeed the Itz were a
people who lived in the Southern Maya Lowlands during the Late Classic period, the Itz may have been
among those who ed the area as refugees. If correctly deduced, the katun 8 Ahaw and katun 6 Ahaw,
associated with the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz, may be a period of A.D. 672-711 (LC:
9.12.0.0.1-9.14.0.0.0). This period correlates particularly well with the previous period of war and it is in
this period that several groups may have come to the Northern Maya Lowlands. All other katun periods
and associated Long Counts are removed by some 256 years from the dates from the Southern Maya
Lowlands and would disassociate the mentioning of the Itz in the Southern Maya Lowlands from the

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 95

Northern Maya Lowlands. It was the combination of these particular events in these two areas that led to
the recent proposal of a new integrated chronology of both the Southern and Northern Maya Lowlands
and the original reconstruction of a Classic Itz heartland (cf. Boot 1995d, 1996a, 1997a, 1997c, 1999e;
Schele 1995; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998). It should be noted that the
opening statements in these two katun chronicles do not describe any event prior to the discovery of the
mouth of the well of Itz. Even more, it is not even stated in these opening passages who discovered the
mouth of the well of Itz. There is also no mention of a reason why certain people came to discover the
mouth of the well. As the chronicles in later passages (see below) do mention the Itz as its main protago-
nists (i.e. ah itza uinicob, ah ytzaob), it can be conjectured that those who discovered the mouth of
the well were indeed the Itz. The particular katun chronicle placements provide the tentative connection
between the Southern and Northern Maya Lowlands and the place of the Itz in general Maya history. If
correct, for two dierent areas it can be postulated that migrating Itz groups arrived. In a period covered
by katuns 8 Ahaw-6 Ahaw (A.D. 672-711) the Itz arrived at the mouth of the well, while in the same
period another group (or groups) of Itz arrived at Tzukubte Siyan Kan Bakhalal. This last group ruled
locally for sixty years before it also went and came to Chichn Itz.
Other texts, written independently from the Chilam Balam chronicles, seem to substantiate the fact
that indeed dierent groups were involved in the settlement of the Chichn Itz and Bacalar areas. This
supposition may nd some conrmation in document 1 of the so-called Valladolid Lawsuit of A.D.
1618:

[...], y asi poblaron Chichenica los unos, y otros se fueron hacia el Sur poblaron Bacalar, y hacia el Norte que
poblaron la costa; [...] su padre y otros Indios principales [...] vinieron de los reynos de Mejico poblar ests
pronvincias, los unos se quedaron en Chichinica que fueron los que edicaron los edicios sontuosos que hay
en el dicho asiento, y otros se fueron Bacalar, y otros fueron poblar la costa hacia el norte, [...] (Brinton
1882: 114, 115, original spelling retained).

This Spanish language text connects the dierent groups to a central Mexican origin (even the name
Moctezuma is given in another text passage), which based on the general contents of the text has been
doubted in previous research (Brinton 1882: 114-116). Independent of a putative Mexican origin (which
may have been incorporated for reasons of providing legitimacy to the newcomers, see Chapter 3), this
source seems indeed to conrm the arrival of dierent groups of newcomers in Yucatn.
There is yet another chronicle, the Second Chumayel Chronicle, which provides an even more elabo-
rate but slightly dierent calendrical placement of events:

//77// Can ahau. u kaba katun. uchci u i


hilob - paua haen cuh uyahauoob ----------
10 Oxhunte ti katun lic utepalob lay ukaba
ob tamuk utepalob lae --------------------
Can ahau a kaba katun. emciob noh he
mal: dzee mal. u kabaob lae -------------
Oxlahun te ti katun. lic utepalob. lic u
15 kaba ticob: tii ualac. u cutob lae ox
lahun cuthi: u cutob lae ----------------
Can ahau. u katunil uch ci u ca xanti
cob u chichheen ytzae. tij utz cin nabi

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96 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

mac tzil tiob tumen u yumoobe: Can tzuc


20 luk ciob can tzucul cab. V kabaob likul
ti likin. kin colah peten bini hun tzuci
kul xaman naco cob hok hun tzucci.
heix hoki hun tzucie: holtun uyuaa
ti chikin hoki: hun tzucie: Canhek
25 uitz: bolonte uitz: u kaba uluumil lae
//78// Can ahau ukatunil. uchci upayalob tu can tzucci
lob. can tzucculcab u kabaob caemiob. ti yumta
lob caemiob. tu chichheen ytzae. ah ytzatun u ka
baob. Oxlahunte ti katun. lic utepalobi: [...]
(Chumayel, cf. Gordon 1913: MS 77, line 08 - MS 78, line 4)

//77// 4 Ahaw was the name of the katun, occurred the births
of the Pawahaen Kuh, their lords.
10 Thirteen katuns they ruled, they were named
while they ruled.
4 Ahaw was the name of the katun they came down. Great Descent,
Small Descent were their names.
Thirteen were the katuns that they ruled,
15 that they were named, to raise their seats.
Thirteen seats were their seats.
4 Ahaw was the katun when occurred their discovery
of the mouth of the well of Itz.
There good things came about because of their lords. Four divisions
20 came forth, four divisions of the land, as they were named. From some place
in the east, Kin Kolah Petn, came one division.
North, from Na Kokob emerged one division.
There emerged one division from Holtn Suyw(h),
in the west it emerged. One division from Kanhek
25 Witz Bolonte Witz, the name of the land.
//78// 4 Ahaw was the katun. Occurred the guidance of the four divisions.
The four divisions of the land was their name. They arrived as lords.
Then they descended to the mouth of the well of Itz. The Itz, thus, was their name.
Thirteen were the katuns they ruled. [...]
(translation by the author)

This passage places the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz in a katun 4 Ahaw. In this passage the
expression uch ci u ca xanti cob is used for the discovery. In Yucatec Maya caxan means hallazgo;
hallada cosa, while caxtic means encontrar, hallar (cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 306, see kaxan,
kaxtik). If this discovery refers to the same discovery event, this katun 4 Ahaw can be placed at A.D.
711-731 (9.14.0.0.1-9.15.0.0.0), following the katuns 8 Ahaw-6 Ahaw at circa A.D. 672-711 (cf. Boot
1997c: 174; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 407-410; Schele and Mathews 1998: 365) (note 30). As
such the discovery would have been a process taking place during a 60 year period. This might not be
as strange as it seems. Large groups of people, while seeking refugee, take some time in moving. After the

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 97

phrase caemciob. tu chichheen ytzae (t)hey descended to the mouth of the well of Itz, the phrase
ah ytzatun u ka//baob (t)he Itz, thus (or: then), was their name (MS 78, lines 3-4) follows. These
two phrases indicate that ytza in tu chichheen ytzae may indeed be considered toponymic instead
of ethnonymic as the ethnonym version throughout the chronicles is preceded by ah or succeeded by
uin(i)cob. Additionally, it conrms the fact that it were the Itz who discovered the mouth of the
well, as described in the opening passages in the other chronicles above. The descent on the mouth of
the well of Itz is simply a parallel expression to the phrase on the discovery of the mouth of the well
of Itz.
The Second Chumayel Chronicle opens with a passage on the birth of the paua haen cuh, who are
their lords (or kings), that is, the lords of the Itz (as they are mentioned later in the text). In previous
research the paua haen cuh have been identied as the possible patron gods of the Itz (cf. Boot 1997c,
2000a; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998). The name of these possible patron
gods is left without a translation here. Recently, Luxton (1995: 151, line 3444) suggested a translation
temple prayer-makers, but in colonial Yucatec ku(h) is temple not cuh. This passage more im-
portantly describes two dierent descents, a noh emal (noh he//mal) or Great Descent and tze emal
(dzee mal) or Small Descent. These descents are also described in the work of Fray Bernardino de
Lizana, who in 1633 writes:

La Historia, y Autores que podemos alegar, son unos antiguos Caracteres, mal entendidos de muchos, y glossa-
dos de algunos Indios antiguos, que eran hijos de los Sacerdotes de sus Dioses, que son los que solo sabian leer
y adivinar, y a quien creian y reverenciavan los demas como a Dioses destos, pues supieron los Padres antiguos,
que primero plantaron la fe de Christo en Yucatan, que la gente de aqui, parte vino del Puniente, y parte del
Oriente; y, assi en su lengua antigua, nombran al oriente de otra manera que oy. [...]. Y antiguamente dezian al
Oriente, Cenial, y al Poniente, Nohenial. celnial, quiere dezir la pequea baxada: y nohemal la grande baxada.
Y es el caso que dize que por la parte del Oriente bax a esta tierra poca gente, y por la de Puniente mucha, y
con aquella silava entendian poco, mucho al Oriente, y Puniente; y la poca genete de una parte, y la mucha
de otra; y qual fuesse la una, y la otra gente, remito al Lector, que quisiere saber mas, al Padre Torquemada en
su Historia Indiana, que all vera, como los Mexicanos vinieron del Nuevo Mexico y de alli. [...] (Lizana 1995
[1633]: 61 [fol. 5v-5r]; emphasis & spelling in original).

Apparently from the readings by some old Yucatec Maya men, who glossed ancient characters (pos-
sibly indeed a reference to an original glyphic manuscript containing references on migration events, cf.
Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949: 10), the knowledge is derived that there were once two descents, a
Small Descent (cenial, celnial) from the east and a Great Descent (nohenial [probably a typo-
graphic error], nohemal) from the west. In two recent studies substantial evidence has been presented,
derived from previously undisclosed manuscript letters and testimonies kept at the Archivo de las Indias
in Sevilla, that hieroglyphic books were used by Maya ritual specialists regularly all over the Yucatn
peninsula well into the seventeenth century and possibly even in the early eighteenth century. In total
125 separate books are mentioned, most of which were destroyed, but some 16 to 18 hieroglyphic books
were kept by local clergy or send to archives (cf. Chuchiak 2000, 2003). Thus far only three codices have
surfaced in Europe (Dresden, Madrid, and Paris). This evidence provides further credibility to the fact
that Lizana indeed had (a) hieroglyphic book(s) at his disposal in the early seventeenth century, which
were glossed by those who could (still) read them.
The same event is described by Fray Diego Lpez de Cogolludo in 1688, citing from an unknown
source, apparently written in Latin script and in the Yucatec Maya language. He describes the contents

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98 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

of this source (no reference is given to its author or its original whereabouts) before he summarizes the
version as given by Lizana:

De las gentes que poblaron este reino de Yucatan, ni de sus historias antiguas, no he podido hallar mas razon
de lo que aqui dir. En algunos escritos, que dejaron los que primero supieron escribir, y estn en su idioma
(dems de practicarse asi entre los indios) se dice, que vinieron unas gentes de la parte occidental y otras de la
oriental. Con las del occidente vino uno, que era como sacerdote suyo, llamado Zamn, que dicen fu el que
puso nombres, con que hoy se llaman en su lengua todos los puertos del mar, puntas de tierra, esteros, costas,
y todos los parages, sitios, montes y lugares de toda esta tierra, que cierto es cosa de admiracion, si as fu, tal
division como hizo de todo, para que fuese conocido por su nombre, porque apenas hay palmo de tierrra, que
no le tenga en su lengua. En haber venido pobladores del occidente esta tierra (aunque ya no saben quienes,
ni como vinieron) convienen con lo que dice el padre Torquemada en su monarquia indiana. [...] (Lpez de
Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 1: 233 [Lib. IV, Cap. 3]; emphasis in original).

Cogolludo only refers to groups of people arriving from the west and the east, without giving references
in Yucatec Maya, as did Lizana. However, he associates the groups that came from the west with Zamn.
This name Zamn and especially the things with which he is accredited, identify him as a kind of creator
god, a god who among the Yucatec Maya was generally known as Itzamn (cf. Lpez de Cogolludo 1971
[1688], vol. 1: 254 [Lib. IV, Cap. 8]). The manuscript Cogolludo refers to has not been identied, but
clearly it is not one of the surviving chronicle texts in the Books of Chilam Balam (as none of these surviv-
ing chronicles contains a reference to Zamn).
Recently Chuchiak proposed that there is a specic reason why certain hieroglyphic books were tran-
scribed to books in Latin script and in Yucatec Maya. In time, during the Early Colonial period, as the
possession of hieroglyphic books became punishable by death, the original books probably were hidden
and subsequently were transcribed into Latin script (cf. Chuchiak 2000). Albeit tentative, the manuscript
cited by Cogolludo may thus be a transcription in Yucatec Maya in Latin script of a hieroglyphic book
similar to the one referred to by Lizana, containing passages on migrations, the areas from which migra-
tions took place, as well as the supernatural guide leading one of those groups.
Also the manuscript of Fray Diego de Landa provides two passages that refer to the arrival of people
to the Northern Maya Lowlands. The rst passage is probably (one of ) the most cited passage(s) from his
work:

Que es opinion entre los Indios que con los Izaes que poblaron a Chicheniza reyno vn gran seor llamado
Cuculcan, y que muestra ser esto verdad el edicio principal que se llama Cuculcan, y dizen que entro por la
parte de poniente, y dieren en si entro antes o despues de los Izaes, o con ellos, [...] (Landa 1566: folio 5r, lines
14-18; Landa 1986: 12-13; Tozzer 1941: 20-22).

While the arrival of Kukulkn Feathered Serpent is the subject of the next chapter, here it is of impor-
tance to note that according to this early Spanish text the Itz are said to come to Chichn Itz from some
unspecied region, part of whom may have come from the west (here phrased as related to the arrival of
Kukulkn from the west). There is however another passage in the Landa manuscript:

Que cuentan los Indios que de parte de medio dia vinieron a Yucatan muchas gentes con sus seores, y q[ue]
parece aver venido de Chiapa aunq[ue] los Indios no lo saben mas que este autor lo congetura porque muchos
vocablos y composiciones de verbos es la misma en Chiapa y en Yucatan y que ay grandes seales en la parte de

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 99

Chiapa de lugares que an sido desploblados, y dizen que estas gentes anduvieron xl. aos por los despoblados
de Yucatan [...] (Landa 1566: folio 6r, lines 18-25; Landa 1986: 15-16; Tozzer 1941: 29-31).

This passage refers to the Tutul Xiu, as Landa indicates in the continuation of this passage (fol. 6r, line
30-33). This particular passage is cited here to indicate that according to sixteenth century oral tradition
(que cuentan los Indios), collected by Landa, dierent groups did come from the south (here referred
to as medio dia), probably as far away as Chiapas. It took this particular group some forty years (xl.
aos) to arrive, which, in fact, is a period of two katuns (note 31).
Although these three Spanish accounts (Lizana, Cogolludo, and Landa) do not provide any date
for the arrival of these groups, these accounts do lend credit to the contents of the Second Chumayel
Chronicle. Not only do these accounts conrm the Small Descent and the Great Descent, two of
these Spanish language accounts (Lizana, Cogolludo) state that these descents were related to dierent
groups arriving in Yucatn, one from the west and one from the east, information not conveyed in the
surviving chronicles in the Books of Chilam Balam. This two-fold arrival event in katun 4 Ahaw is fur-
ther detailed in the same Second Chumayel Chronicle. There were apparently four dierent divisions,
together referred to as kan tzuk (can tzuc) four divisions and kan tzukul kab (can tzucul cab) four
divisions of the land. Each division was associated with a cardinal direction and a specic place of origin.
Although in previous research it has been suggested that the four divisions went to these specic places
(cf. Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949: 46; Edmonson 1986: 57, lines 179-191), the Yucatec Maya text
refers to these places as the places of origin of the four divisions (cf. Brinton 1882: 180; Roys 1933: 139-
140; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 407-409). The later sentence caemciob tu chichheen ytzae they
descended to the mouth of the well of Itz to me clearly indicates that the places associated with the
four divisions are locations from which groups arrived (i.e. descended) to the area in which the city of
Chichn Itz would be founded. This particular sentence is translated (nearly) the same by all translators
(e.g. Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949: 46; Brinton 1882: 181; Edmonson 1986: 58, lines 198-199;
Gunsenheimer 2002: Chapter 3; Mediz Bolio 1987 [1930]: 92; Roys 1933: 140). Thus from some place
(likul) in the east (likin), named Kin Kolah Petn (or: Kinkol Ahpetn), came one division. From
Na Kokob in the north (xaman) came a division, from Holtn Suyw(h) in the west (chikin) came
a division, while the fourth division came from Canhek uitz: bolonte uitz. Although not specically
stated, but as already three cardinal directions are named in the text, this fourth division has to be associ-
ated with the south (which, if included, would have been referred to as nohol). I begin with this south
division, coming from Canhek uitz: bolonte uitz. Most previous analyses of this particular passage
transcribe Canhek uitz or Kan Hek Wits for the rst part and simply translate it Four Mountains
(cf. Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949: 46; Mediz Bolio 1987 [1930]: 92). Some translators provide a
translation Four (kan) Peak(ed) (hek) Mountain (witz) (e.g. Roys 1933: 139; Schele, Grube, and Boot
1998: 408; Thompson 1970: 23). Indeed, can is four while uitz means hill, mountain (cf. Barrera
Vsquez et al. 1980: 291, 924-925). It is Roys who provides the meaning four-branched for the item
canhek in another passage, where it seems to function as the name of a ower (Roys 1933: 105, note
7, cf. Gordon 1913: MS 46 line 21). Roys, however, does not provide any dictionary source on which
this interpretation of hek as branched is based (note 32). Although hek can be found in Yucatec
Maya, early dictionary underwrites Roys interpretation (compare to Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 196, as
hek). I am not convinced that hek branched is a correct interpretation. A short discussion is oered
here to describe the phoneme or sound /h/ in hek and its particular function to arrive at a dierent
interpretation. The Second Chumayel chronicle refers to the Great Descent as noh he//mal (again
double virgule to indicate line break), in which a phoneme or sound /h/ precedes the lexical item <emal>,

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100 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

while Lizana refers to this descent as nohenial and nohemal. In her transcription of the Chumayel,
Bricker preferred nohh emal (Bricker 1990b: 178). The original text in the Chumayel, however, clearly
includes the second /h/ as part of the item hemal, not of noh, as Bricker suggested. There are other
instances in the Chumayel in which an additional /h/ is included by Bricker in lexical items ending in
/h/, such as in cahh. There are two examples (Bricker 1990b: 98, but note p. 580 in the same work
that only refers to one example), which can be found on Chumayel MS 91 (lines 24-25) in the phrase
VBouatilcah.//hi and on Chumayel MS 96 (lines 19-20) in the phrase belnalil Cah://hobi. In those
cases the line breaks may simply be the reason for the repetition of the letter /h/.
The additional /h/ is thus not to be included in the lexical item noh, but it is part of hemal.
Yucatec Maya provides emel as the verb for to descend from which emal descent is derived (cf.
Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 153). Both hemal (Chumayel) and emal (Lizana) mean descent and
are thus variants for the same expression. According to the unknown compiler of the Motul dictionary,
although sometimes erroneously identied as Ciudad Real (Garca Quintana and Castillo Farreras 1993:
xlvi, in Ciudad Real 1993, vol. 1), the following can be found on the words that open with the phoneme
/h/:

De los que comienan en .H. simple.


que hiere muy poco y aun se pierde en muchos . quando
se les anteponen pronombres
(Ciudad Real 1984, vol. 1: fol. 202v)

The very soft aspiration of the /h/ in Yucatec Maya is further described in the short discussion of this
phoneme by Fray Gabriel de San Buenaventura:

La letra H, se ha de pronunciar n afpiracion. Los nombres, y verbos, que comienan con efta letra, ordina-
riamente la pierden, y fe declinan, y conjugan con el pronombre V: AV: Y: vg. halmahthanil, mandato, dir
valmahthanil, mi mandato, aualmahthanil, tu mandato, yalmahthanil, el mandato de aquel (San Buenaventura
1996 [1684]: 19 [fol. 1r], 57-58; emphasis & spelling in original).

The phoneme or sound /h/ represents thus a very soft aspiration and is dropped when the root item is
possessed. This description for the phoneme /h/ in early colonial Yucatec Maya (the Motul dictionary
was probably edited in the fourth quarter of the sixteenth century, cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 19a;
Brinton 1882: 77; Tozzer 1977 [1921]: 170) combined with the entries hemal, enial, and emal
may indicate that the opening phoneme /h/ is only a phonological variant and that there is no change
of meaning. If correct, this (optional) prexed phoneme or sound /h/ can be postulated in the phrase
Canhek uitz, occurring in the same passage. In this phrase thus hek can be identied as a variant of
ek and the phrase Canhek uitz can be transcribed as Kanhek Witz. In the phrase Kanhek Witz the
part Kanhek thus tentatively can be identied as a reference to the name or hereditary title Kanek (in
Classic Maya chanek/kanek) and Witz as the nearly pan-Mayan word for hill, mountain (cf. Brown
and Wichmann 2004: 182; Dienhart 1989: 434-437; Kaufman 2003: 432-433). The second part of this
toponym bolonte uitz means Nine Mountains, based on bolon nine, -te numeral classier,
and uitz hill, mountain (cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 63, 782, 924). Kanhek Witz Bolonte Witz
combined refers to an area in the south (the cardinal direction with which it should be associated) from
which a group migrated north (note 33). It was Brinton who already suggested that [t]he mountains
of Canhek and the Nine Mountains take us to the Itzas around Lake Peten, in the extreme south of the

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 101

peninsula (Brinton 1882: 184). Unfortunately, he did not provide a translation or interpretation of this
Canhek example.
In previous research some authors have suggested that bolonte uitz may refer to a place known since
the Colonial period as Volonteviz, or Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, a place on the Ro Chixoy, southwest
of the central Petn (Map 2.4) (cf. Barrera Vsquez and Morley 1949: 46-47; Roys 1933: 139, note 9;
Thompson 1970: 23) although there is no certainty (Dillon 1977: 7). This place Bolonte Witz, if both
indeed refer to the same location, can be found in a particular interesting passage in a manuscript written
in 1639 by Licenciado Antonio de Lon Pinelo, who summarized a report by captain Juan Santiago de
Velasco written in 1626:

Este ao [1625] se intent descubrir camino por medio de todas estas provincias desde la Verapaz a Xicalango,
o Laguna de Trminos. A lo cual el presidente don Diego de Acua envi cuarenta soldados, y por cabo de
ellos al capitn Juan Santiago de Velasco, Alcalde Mayor de la Verapaz. Acompaele fray Francisco Moran (el
que ahora ha despertado esta pacicacin) y a doce leguas de camino dieron en un ro (que aunque caudaloso)
no era navegable, como se entenda. De all pas slo el religioso con ocho espaoles y catorce indios y anduve
otras seis jornadas. Lleg a un paraje que llaman Volonteviz, que es lo mismo que nueve cerros, adonde des-
cubri un arroyo que desplayndose por unos llanos forma un gran salina, nica y singular en todas aquellas
tierras de los Agaitzaes. Una legua ms abajo se hall el ro navegable que se buscaba. [...] (Lon Pinelo 1997
[1639]: 65-66; also see Lon Pinelo 1986 [1639]: 8-9).

The navigable river Morn was looking for was the Ro Chixoy. The site Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, here
referred to as Volonteviz, can be found on a tributary to that river. More interesting, however, is the
sentence that ascribes the place named Volonteviz to be located in Itz territory. In his manuscript Lon
Pinelo refers to the Itz variously as Tayasales, Taizaes, Atitzaes, Ahitzaes, as well as Agaitzaes.
There is no other place in the Maya area that positively has been identied as Bolonte Witz. If the place
named bolonte uitz in the Second Chumayel Chronicle and Volonteviz in the Lon Pinelo manu-
script refer to the same location, this might provide an indication where Canhek uitz or Kanek Witz is
located. As Bolonte Witz is located in the extreme southwest of possible Itz territory (at least it is iden-
tied as Itz territory in 1625, although recently doubt has been expressed that bolonte viz belonged
to the Itz at that time, cf. Dillon 1977: 9), Kanek Witz may refer to another hill or mountain location
in that part of Itz territory. A passage on the same journey and the same event can be found in the
manuscript of Don Martn Alfonso Tovilla (n.d. [1636]: 211); the location, however, is simply referred
to as salinas, while the Itz are referred to as Ajia. The area in which Salinas de los Nueve Cerros is
located is to the extreme southwest of Machaquil and as such to the extreme southwest of the possible
Classic Itz region as suggested above. As inscriptions that provide chanek/kanek originate from a more
central area within the Southern Maya Lowlands, the Kanek Witz toponym may refer to a location more
closely to or possibly even within this central region. As such the division coming forth from Kanek Witz
Bolonte Witz indeed refers to an area in the south of the Southern Maya Lowlands, possibly an area
that stretches from the central region of the Southern Maya Lowlands to the extreme southwest in which
currently Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, formerly known as Bolonte Witz, is located (note 34).
Support for this identication may be found in the archaeology of the site of Bolonte Witz. Habel
was the rst researcher who reported (albeit very briey) on the site, which he visited in 1863 (Habel
1878: 8). Already at an early stage of exploration a monument in Classic Maya style, probably the up-
per part of a sandstone stela containing a glyphic inscription on its sides, putatively was removed from a
mound at the site (Mayer 1978: 7, Plate 9; Seler 1902-23, vol. 3, gure facing page 598). This monument

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102 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Map 2.4 The Location


of Bolonte Witz/Salinas
de los Nueve Cerros, with
major salt trade routes of
the late 19th and 20th
century (in Andrews 1983:
Fig. 4.12)

now resides in the Museum fr Vlkerkunde in Berlin and is of some renown (cf. Proskouriako 1950;
Spinden 1913; Thompson 1970). Research at Salinas de los Nueve Cerros started in earnest in the 1970s,
when a team of archaeologists led by Dillon arrived at the site. Some of the conclusions on their research
were:

The archaeological evidence from Salinas de los Nueve Cerros and the central Chixoy in general provides for
the inclusion of this region within the Central Maya area. [...] The presence of ceramics similar in style to
those of the Floral Park Horizon indicate that contacts with the Central Peten area had been established by the
Protoclassic period, and that perhaps salt from the Arroyo Salinas gured in this relationship as an export item.
The latest ceramics from the Nueve Cerros region demonstrate extremely close links with the Boca Horizon
of the Pasion river area, suggestive of a strengthening of this regional style to the exclusion of inuences from
farther aeld. In light of this later situation, the possibility that earlier contacts might have been through the
Pasion river area and not directly with the Central Peten should not be discounted (Dillon 1977: 51; cf. also
Andrews 1983: 95-98).

Salinas de los Nueve Cerros thus operated both materially and culturally within the larger area of the
central Petn, that is, within the Southern Maya Lowlands. With the importance of a Classic occupation
of the site established, it may indeed be the bolonte uitz as mentioned in the Chumayel.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 103

The other three places of origin are


more dicult to identify and to locate,
and as Brinton wrote he was unable to
nd any of them in the present geogra-
phy of Yucatan (Brinton 1882: 184).
The place Kin Kolah Petn is identied
as a location in the east. Petn is a general
Yucatec Maya word for district, prov-
ince and island (cf. Barrera Vsquez et
al. 1980: 648). Interestingly, Kin colah
peten can be found as the place where a
katun 13 Ahaw was established, accord-
ing to the katun wheel on MS 72 of the
Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel that
contains short entries and prophecy texts
(Brinton 1882: 184; Roys 1933: 139)
(Figure 2.33). Kin colah peten is associ-
ated with the eastern section of the katun
wheel. These are, however, the only two
references to that site or region. The place
Na Kokob is identied as a location in
the north. Here na may mean mother
or it may be a variant of na or nah house,
structure (cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980:
Figure 2.33 Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, MS 72 545), so that Na Kokob may refer to the
(in Gordon 1913) House of the Kokob . Alternatively,
na may be an abbreviation of nal, a lexi-
cal item in Classic Maya texts that refers to north (e.g. a spelling NAH/na-NAL-la at Ro Azul and a
spelling na-NAL in the Codex Madrid). Final -l in Yucatec Maya as well as Classic Maya is known to be
deleted on occasion (e.g. xo-TE for xo(l)te cylindrical piece of wood, cf. Boot 2002a; Zender 1999).
Na Kokob may thus simply be North Kokob (note 35). Holtn Suyw(h) is identied as a location
in the west. Holtn (holtun) appears in more toponyms (e.g. holtun Ake, holtun chable, hol
tun ytza, holtun suhuy va) and even in a personal name (to be introduced below, holtun balam).
The word holtun seems to consist of hol entrance, portal and tun stone (cf. Barrera Vsquez
et al. 1980: 224, 822), possibly for gate (Roys 1933: 146, note 8) or port. Here the part Suyw(h)
(uyuaa) is most interesting. There are several other passages in the Books of Chilam Balam as well as
other colonial manuscripts in which Suyw(h) appears. Although its precise meaning is still unknown, in
for example the Popol Wuj of the Kich in Highland Guatemala the term Suyw(h) is associated with
a place named Tullan, a variant of Tollan Place of Reed. Suyw(h) Tullan is an important place of origin
of the Kiche winak (people) (cf. Van Akkeren 2000). This place of origin, generally located in the west
(but in the Popol Wuj in the east), will be explored in more detail in Chapter 3.

The four dierent locations or regions were mentioned in a passage directly following a passage that
introduced the Great Descent (noh hemal) and the Small Descent (dze emal). In past research
the Great Descent has been correlated with the west and the arrival of Kukulkn (see passage from

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104 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Landa), while the Small Descent has been correlated with the east and a particular episode in the Book
of Chilam Balam of Chumayel that opens with the location of Ppole (e.g. Thompson 1970: 5, 11, 24).
This place named Ppole has been identied as a center on the east coast of the Yucatn peninsula, op-
posite to the island of Cozumel. It was Snchez de Aguilar who described a port named Ppole:

Aduierto que los Indios desta isla de Cozumel son grandes idolatras el dia de oy, en la qual puso Cortes la
primera Cruz, de que Chi Lancabal hablo; y vsan vn baile de su gentilidad, y echan bailando el perro que
han de sacricar; y quando han de pasar al pueblo de Ppole, que es la tierra rme, vsan muchas supersticiones
antes de embarcarse, y passar aquella canal, que corre con mas velozidad, que vn rio caudaloso: [...] (Snchez
de Aguilar 1987 [1639]: 83; cf. Roys 1933: 70, note 5).

In the Early Colonial period it was at Ppole that people from Cozumel arrived on the mainland and it
was this particular passage that made Thompson suggest that the Small Descent from the east came
from the island of Cozumel (cf. Thompson 1970: 11, see above). If, however, the Itz came from the
Southern Maya Lowlands, how would Ppole have served the Small Descent? At least it is through the
work of Lizana that we are informed that it was a small group that formed the eastern Small Descent.
Now, if the place Ppole in the Chumayel is indeed the port city of Ppole, as described in the work of
Snchez de Aguilar, there may have been a group of Itz who arrived by way of the sea. This may be not
as strange as it seems on rst hand. The Maya did possess large seaworthy canoes or boats, which were
used in long-distance trade, as observed by Bartolom Colon in August of 1502 at a port site close to the
coast of Honduras (Isla de los Pinos, cf. Herrera 1601-15: Dec. 1, Lib. V, Cap. V, cited in Brasseur de
Bourbourg 1864: 1-2 & note 1). More importantly, there is a Spanish source that states that at one time
the Itz migrated from Chichn Itz to the central Petn area by way of the sea:

Dice el padre Fuensalida que cien aos antes que viniesen los espaoles estos reinos [Petn Itz], se huyeron
de Chichen-Itz [...], y poblaron aquellas tierras donde hoy viven. [...] Dice tambien que se fueron ellas por
la mar, y por aquella parte que sale su laguna tienen en tierra un rancho que llaman Zinibacan, que quiere
decir donde tendieron las velas, por porque all las enjugaron habindoseles mojado. [...] (Lpez de Cogolludo
1971 [1688], vol. 2: 256-257 [Lib. IX, Cap. 14]; emphasis mine).

This passage does not give a place of embarkment nor a place of arrival on the southern coast, it only
provides the name of a place where they dried their sails (note 36), apparently located on the lake (Petn)
itself. The place Zinibacan has not been located yet (cf. Jones 1998: 12, note 25).
This particular passage does indicate that migration itself not necessarily was restricted to land, but
that it also could take place over sea. Although the following suggestion is very tentative, there is a direct
route to the sea from the central and eastern Southern Maya Lowlands. East of Lake Petn one follows the
navigable Mopn river (on which the ruins of Ucanal can be found), which joins the Tip river, itself a
navigable tributary to the Belize River, which eventually empties in the Caribbean Sea at an ancient port
town, probably once named Holzuz (cf. Jones 1989: 288), now the location of Belize City. If correct, this
could well be the place of embarkment to the Bay of Chetumal and Bacalar (if that group went by way
of the sea) and further north to Ppole.

Outside the katun chronicles there are two passages, which may strengthen the association between the
eastern section of the Northern Maya Lowlands around Bacalar and south of Ppole with the Itz and their
temporary settlement that started in a katun 8 Ahaw. The rst passage can be found in the Chumayel:

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 105

//86// [...] + Vkahlay v tzolan v miatzil


vyanahteil - vtzolan vximbal katun VayCuhok
10 cabal tulumil= Nitun dzala. chac temal=tahvay
mil= hol tun ytza= chi chinila=cautzac yohel
tabel vcuch vximbal katun= hun hun dzit katune=
vautz=valob yani [...]
(Gordon 1913: MS 86, lines 8-13)

//86// [...] + The record of the count of the wisdom


of the book - the count of the course of the katun, here it is contained
10 of the land, of the fortication of Nitundzal, Chactemal,
Tahwaymil, Holtn Itz, Chichinil, so is known
the burden of the course of the katun, of each and every katun,
whether it is good, whether it is bad [...]
(translation by the author)

In this passage the phrase hol tun ytza occurs, which can be translated as the gate (hol tun) of the
Itz, as noted by Roys, or the port of the Itz. He also noted that Chactemal and Tahuaymil are both
names given to the native province better known as Chetumal (Roys 1933: 146, note 8). He further
associated chi chinila with a place named Chichimil some distance south of Valladolid. This particular
passage connects a place named Holtn Itz with a particular region (Chactemal-Tahwaymil) in which
Bacalar is located and which is due south of Ppole. The region in which Bacalar was situated, as described
above, may have served as a temporary settlement of the Itz starting in a katun 8 Ahaw.
In the Tizimn a parallel passage can be found, now contained in a katun prophecy, providing a direct
association between a specic time period and the possible settlement by the Itz (also note the ancient
items uanahteil and yunil for book):

//16r// Can ahau ukinil tuchi chen Ytza, Can ahau ukatu nilxan
u kah lai u miatz natil y chil uanah teil vai cu hok sa
bal ti yunil ni tun dzala chac temal tah vaimil holtun
Ytza ti ci ci ila bixan tu to hil than [...]
(Mayer 1980b: fol. 21r [16r], lines 1-4)

//16r// 4 Ahaw is the time at the mouth of the well of Itz,


4 Ahaw is the katun too.
It is the recollection of the wisdom, (the) knowledge within the book.
Here it is contained
in the book of Nitundzal, Chactemal, Tahwaymil, Holtn
Itz, to be considered too in the true word [...]
(translation by the author)

The time period referred to here is a katun 4 Ahaw. Although this is a prophecy text, this particular as-
sociation may not be a coincidence, as a katun 4 Ahaw in the Second Chumayel Chronicle describes the
Great and Small Descent to Chichn Itz. I have tried to provide evidence that Bacalar and Ppole,
to the north of Bacalar, were points of entry for certain groups of Itz to nally reach the mouth of the

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106 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

well. A third and even more elaborate variant of this passage, outside the chronicles and prophecies, can
be found in the Tizimn (MS 7R, lines 18-26). This particular variant ends with a reference to a hier-
oglyphic book (ti dzoc//in dzaic voh lae to nish I gave it [in] characters) and with the date that it
was nished as February 15, A.D. 1544 (cf. Mayer 1980b: fol. 10r [7r], lines 18-26; Edmonson 1982:
111-112, lines 2945-2980).

To reiterate, Ppole may thus have served as a port that received a migrating group of Itz that along the
coast went north by way of sea. This group may have been the group that Lizana referred to as the Small
Descent and through the Second Chumayel chronicle we know that this Small Descent arrived in
katun 4 Ahaw, tentatively placed at A.D. 711-731. The episode that begins at Ppole is not dated itself
and it is not a part of any of the chronicles or the prophecies. This text may describe a very extensive
migration route that started at Ppole and eventually led to Chichn Itz (note 37). This episode opens
with the following passage:

//04// [...] tiliku


lob Cakuchob: ppoole: ti ppolhob: yalaah
ytzai: ti tun u naa in tahob yx ppoli:
Cakuchob: Ake: ti sihob: tix Akei: A
Ke: u kaba vaye: Cuthanob: Catun Ku
15 chob: Alaa: [...]
(Gordon 1913: MS 4, lines 10-15)

//04// [...] From some


places they arrived at Ppoole; here increased the remainder
of the Itz. Then as mother they took the woman of Ppole.
Then they arrived at Ak, there they were born at Ak.
Ak was its name here, as they said. Then they
15 arrived at Ala; [...]
(translation by the author)

It is only stated that from some places (ti likulob) they arrived (Cakuchob) at Ppole, which unfortu-
nately does not inform us on their place of origin. If Ppole is indeed the port site as described earlier, this
particular group of Itz may thus have come by way of the sea. Here the remainder of the Itz (yalaah
ytzai) increased in number (ti ppolhob), possibly by taking the woman of Ppole as their mother (ti
tun u naa in tahob yx ppoli). This particular sentence is somewhat enigmatic. According to Roys, who
translated women of Ppole, in a footnote to his 1933 translation, the taking of the women of Ppole
shows a recollection of the rst Itz taking the women of the country as their wives, which he only
seems to justify from a supposition that (t)hese invaders were probably largely men (Roys 1933: 70,
note 5). This particular sentence only seems to indicate that they took (in tahob) the women (following
Roys) of Ppole (yx ppoli) as their mothers (u naa). Alternatively, and as such explaining the absence of
a plural sux, this passage might refer to a single woman from Ppole who became their mother (Adelaar,
personal communication, November 2001). More importantly, the item naa can not be translated as
wife, as all Yucatec Maya sources indicate that naa (as na) means mother (Barrera Vsquez et al.
1980: 545; Hoing and Tesucn 1997: 464). The word for wife would have been atan (Barrera Vsquez
et al. 1980: 18; Hoing and Tesucn 1997: 159, tan). Mediz Bolio prefers a translation (a)ll tuvieron

chapter-2.indd 106 20-12-2004 14:11:27


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 107

por madre a Ix Ppol (Mediz Bolio 1987 [1930]: 21). As such I do not agree with Roys reference to
taking wives at Ppole, nor with his observation that the invaders were largely men. Based on the
same sentence I tentatively suggest that a woman or the women of Ppole was adopted in some way as the
mother of the (remainder of the) Itz. This might indicate that this (these) particular woman (women)
made these particular Itz of local descent. The woman (women) of Ppole may thus have served as an
ennobling woman (women) through which the descendants of this generation of Itz could lay claim
on local land and associated land rights.
This passage continues with the naming of all places where the Itz passed by from Ppole to their
ultimate destination. Two short passages from this episode will be cited, one passage on the home of
a maternal grandfather from half-way the possible migration route, one passage identifying the nal
destination. The rst short passage:

//06// [...] Catun


Kuchob: Sabacnail: yicnal v mamob: V
Chun v uinicil ah Nae: lay chel nae: v ma
mob: [...]
(Chumayel: MS 6, lines 3-6)

//06// [...] Then


they arrived at Sabaknail, in the presence of their maternal grandfather, the
rst of the people of those of Na; this was Chel Na, their
maternal grandfather. [...]
(translation by the author)

The second short passage reads:

//07// [...] Ca Kuchob Cetelac: v Kaba


cah: macalob: y v Kaba cheenob: Ca u tzac
yohel taual tuxmanob: tan u ximbal ticob:
yilaob uuutz: lay peten: Vaunahma cah
talob: Vay lae: [...]
(Chumayel: MS 7, lines 5-9)

//07// [...] Then they arrived at Cetelac. The names


of the towns, of closures, and the names of the wells, in order
to know where they passed during their journey for
them to see if it was good in this province, if it was suitable to
settle here, that is [...]
(translation by the author)

The reference to Sabaknail (Sabacnail Place of Sabakna or Soot House, note -il locative sux) is of
importance here. In this passage Sabaknail is identied as a place where they arrive (Kuchob) in the
presence (yicnal) of their maternal grandfather (v mamob). The part yicnal has been translated the
home of (Roys 1933: 71) and the place of (Edmonson 1986: 85, line 870). In Yucatec Maya yicnal
is glossed as con, en compaia, en poder, en casa, o donde alguno est (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 265,

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108 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

see iknal). Classic hieroglyphic inscriptions provide spellings yi-chi-NAL and yi-chi-NAL-la for yichnal,
the Classic Maya variant of Yucatec Maya iknal. I translate yicnal as in the presence of, in the sense
that the Itz and their maternal father are in each others company at the home or place of the latter. It is
in this passage that the ennobling quality of the woman of Ppole comes to the fore. Although Sabaknail
is a place of unknown location, it is here that the maternal grandfather of the Itz is supposed to live.
Only because the woman of Ppole became their mother, the Itz now have a local maternal grandfather.
He is the only maternal grandfather named in the dierent Books of Chilam Balam. It further can be
surmised that this Chel Na (chel nae), as he is named, can only be their maternal grandfather if the
woman of Ppole was indeed adopted as the mother of the Itz instead of as their wife. In the name Chel
Na, Chel can be identied as the matronym (family name which only descends through the generations
in the female line) and Na can be identied as the patronym (family name which only descends through
the generations in the male line) (compare to Roys 1940). The importance of this maternal grandfather
will become clear later (see Chapter 4).
In 1994, two collocations in the inscriptions at Chichn Itz were identied that contained the part
sabak (sa-ba-ka) (cf. Boot 1993a, 1996a as sa-ba-ka; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 412). The rst
collocation I now transcribe as BAH? sa-ba-ka AHAW-wa for bah(?) sabak ahaw rst or head king
of sabak, which is followed by o-OL-la-si KUH for olis kuh, a specic epithet for gods (kuh god)
(Figure 2.34a). In this rst example sabak can be identied as a toponym, as bah(?) sabak ahaw can be

Figure 2.34 Chichn Itz,


Las Monjas Building: Sabak
Collocations (drawings by Ian
Graham, arrangement by the
author)

identied as a variant title of origin (bah rst or head is prexed to a normal title of origin sabak ahaw,
king of sabak). Sabaknail in the Chumayel is the home of the maternal grandfather of the Itz. It has at
its root sabak, which as a location specically occurs in the inscriptions at Chichn Itz. If correct, there
could be a direct connection between the place of origin named Sabaknail of the maternal grandfather
Chel Na in the Chumayel and bah(?) sabak ahaw at Chichn Itz. On the possibility that this individual
mentioned at Chichn Itz may have the stature of a god, the reader is directed to Chapter 4. The second
collocation can now be transcribed sa-ba-ka TOK pa-ka-la for sabak tok pakal (Figure 2.34b). Here
sabak tok pakal may mean (carriers of ) int(s)(tok)-and-shield(s)(pakal) of sabak. The tok pakal was
probably a direct reference to a Maya (in this case Itz) army or contigent of warriors carrying int topped
arms and protective shields. In both examples from the inscriptions at Chichn Itz sabak may thus refer
to a toponym, while the Chumayel may identify Sabaknail as the home or place of the maternal grand-
father of the Itz.
The long passage that describes the possible migration route starting at Ppole ends with a statement
that identies the incentive of the route: (...) for them (ticob) to see (yilaob) if it was good (uuutz)

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 109

here (lay) in the province (or district) (peten), suitable (Vaunahma) to settle (cah talob) here, that
is (Vay lae). The last place name mentioned is Cetelac, identied by Roys as the name of a ranch near
to the Classic Maya center of Yaxun (Roys 1933: 72, note 9). I hold this identication to be correct
and it is followed here too (Edmonson 1986: 87, line 919; Thompson 1970: 11-12). The site of Yaxun
lies at the western end of a 110 km. long causeway or sakbe white road that begins at Cob, a large
Classic Maya center in the far eastern section of the Northern Maya Lowlands. Yaxun lies some 20 km.
southeast of Chichn Itz. The possible migration here described started at the east coast at Ppole (and
before that at some location farther south by sea) and ended at Cetelac, southeast of Chichn Itz. It can
be suggested that it might be from here (Cetelac) that the Itz eventually discovered the mouth of their
well, near as they were to their nal destination.

Based on the above analysis of the opening passages on the events in katuns 8 Ahaw, 6 Ahaw, and 4 Ahaw
these three consecutive katuns can be connected to a period of A.D. 672-731 (9.13.0.0.1-9.15.0.0.0). All
three katuns pertain to the nal arrival of groups of Itz from the Southern Maya Lowlands to the North-
ern Maya Lowlands, expressed through the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz. These particular
katun placements correlate intriguingly well in time with the specic temporal increase in warfare in the
Dos Pilas-Aguateca area (A.D. 647-679), an area central to the Southern Maya Lowlands and near to (or
even including) the possible Classic Itz homeland. While certain groups seem to have arrived directly
at a place at the mouth of the well, later to be known as Chichn Itz, other groups arrived rst at Siyan
Kan Bakhalal and later went further to Chichn Itz. Yet another group may have migrated north by sea
to arrive at the port of Ppole and from here the Itz migrated to Chichn Itz. While the three dierent
chronicles (and the Ppole episode) do not provide any information on the original circumstances prior to
the occurrence of the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz, these texts do describe a complex and
dramatic migration process taking several generations. As such it is no surprise that the discovery of the
mouth of the well can be related to a broad period of circa A.D. 672-731.

The Katun Periods After the Arrival of the Itz

After the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz, the First Chumayel Chronicle and the Tizimn
Chronicle each have a simple entry for a katun 13 Ahaw, namely tzolci pop for set in order was
(tzolci) the mat (pop). As this katun 13 Ahaw follows the original discovery in a katun 8 Ahaw
(Tizimn Chronicle) and 6 Ahaw (First Chumayel Chronicle), this katun can be placed at A.D. 751-771
(9.16.0.0.1-9.17.0.0.0) (see Table 2.1 & 2.2). As explained above, in the Man chronicle this katun
13 Ahaw is also the katun in which a dierent group of Itz from Siyan Kan Bakhalal is said to come
down to Chichn Itz. But to what does the entry set in order was (tzolci) the mat (pop) refer to?
The Yucatec Maya verb root tzol means poner orden y ordenar as, while tzol cutal means asentarse
por orden (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 863, see tsol, tsol kutal). The Yucatec Maya noun pop/poop means
estera o petate (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 666) and through the Maya entry cuch, poop. dzam in
the Bocabulario de Maya Than it is dened as Asiento de rreyes o seores (Acua 1993: fol. 21v,
original spelling, compare to Acuas transcription on p. 213 in this edition; Mengin 1972: fol. 21v). As
such this sentence literally seems to refer to the putting in order of the mat, the seat of the principals or
lords. There is one passage in the Chumayel that may provide an extension on this single sentence. Again,
it is found outside the katun chronicles or prophecies. It follows after the description of a second pos-
sible migration route, part of the rst migration route (starting at Ppole) that was cited above. In earlier

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110 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

research the following passage has been interpreted as a reference to the founding of Mayapn. However,
specic details in this passage indicate that it may refer to the founding of Chichn Itz (Boot 1997c:
174-175; Schele, and Grube, and Boot 1998: 412-414):

//09// [...] Ca
hoppi: uhedz luumob. yahauobi: ti yanah
yah kin paloncabi: heklay yah kinobe
mutupul vkaba: heahkin palon cabe:
15 ah may: heah kin mutupule: ahcanul:
Vay yom chhichhix xan nunilixan: yu ca
tun ah chable: ah ych caan sihoo: holtun
Balam: v mehen: lay u chaah yx yaxum
chakane: ti tun kuchi: v lak ahauobi:
20 Laobi ahau vnup v thanobe: ti yahau
lilob ti Buluc ahau tun: v Kaba Cu
chi: cauhedzah cabobi: Caix tihedzluum
nahobi: Caix cahlahobi: ych Caan si
hoo: Caemob ah holtun Ake: Ca emob:
25 ah sabacnailob: he ah sabac naile: v chun
v uinicil: ahna: Catun umolah vbaob
te ych caan sihoo: ti yan yx pop
ti balam. tilic yahaulili: hol tun ba
lam:
//10// [ti t u chheen] tili [c] yah[a]ulili.
[pochek ix]dzoy: lay u chun uuinicil. Co
poe. [tutul] xiuix tloualxan: chacte ahau:
chac te u lumil vchuc yahaulilob: [...]
(Gordon 1913: MS 09, lines 11 - MS 10, line 4)

//09// [...] Then


began the taking possession of the lands by the lords. There was
the Ah Kin of Palonkab; there was the Ah Kin
of Mutupul, his name; the Ah Kin of Palonkab,
15 Ah May; the Ah Kin of Mutupul, Ah Kanul,
Wayom Chich also, Nunil also. And the
second Ah Chable, Ah Ichkansihoo, Holtn
Balam was his son; then received was the cotinga
by Chakan. Here then arrived the other lords,
20 these lords were the companions, the speakers for the lordships
in 11 Ahaw thus, the name of the burden.
Then they populated the lands, then was taken possession by them of the land.
Then they settled [at] Ichkansihoo.
Then came down they from Holtn Ak. Then came down
25 those of Sabaknail. He of Sabaknail was the rst
of the people of the Na family. Then they gathered themselves

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 111

at Ichkansihoo, here was the mat


for the jaguar, during the reign of Holtn
Balam,
//10// [there at the well], during the reign of
[Pochek Ix]tzoy. He was the rst of the people of
Kopo. Tutul Xiw Ixtloal also [there]. Chakt lord,
Chakt was the land of the capture by the lordships. [...]
(translation by the author)

In this passage a specic gathering of lords takes place. The passage opens with then began (ca hoppi)
the taking possession (hedz) of the land (luum) by the lords (yahauobi). The item hedz luum
is dened as poblar as well as tomar posesin and eligir lugar o tierra (Michelon 1976: 138, 751)
(note 38). This particular taking of possession of the land can be interpreted as some kind of founding
event (see below). Then the names follow of several important lords: Ah Kin (priestly title, he of the
sun, day, divination, festivities) of Palonkab (place of unknown location), Ah Kin of Mutupul (place
of unknown location), Ah Kanul (He of Kanul, an area in the Western Puuc region), Wayom Chich
(Enchanter of Birds, personal name, identity unknown), Nunil (Place of Nun, of unknown location),
and Ah Chable (He of the Chable family) who is from Ichkansihoo (possibly the original name of
both Mrida and Dzibilchaltn, see below). A certain Holtn Balam (Entrance-stone Jaguar) is the son
of Ah Chable. The cotinga (yaxun) was received by Chakan. Although chakan is a generic reference
in Yucatec Maya for savanna, at the time of the conquest the area in which Mrida and Dzibilchaltn
were situated was named Chakan. The Motul dictionary specically denes ah chakan as el que es de
Merida o de los pueblos de aquella comarca que se llama Chakan (Brinton 1882: 125; Roys 1957: 35;
cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 81).
After a statement on the arrival (ti tun kuchi) of the other lords or kings (u lak ahauobi), the
description of the founding continues with then (ca) they populated (uhedzah) the lands (cabobi);
then (caix) was taken possession by them (tihedz-...-nahobi) of the land (luum) (see note 37).
Both cab and luum mean land in Yucatec Maya, but cab also can refer to town or world
(Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 277, 466). After this founding statement, there is a specic reference to
the coming (literally descent, em- to descend, to come down) of people from Holtn Ak and
Sabaknail. The place named Sabaknail was associated earlier with a maternal grandfather in the pas-
sage that described a migration route beginning at Ppole. Here specically the rst of the Na family is
mentioned again, who was identied as the maternal grandfather in an earlier passage (and named Chel
Na). His presence here, at the moment of founding, provides the Itz a legitimate claim to rule, as the
woman of Ppole as their mother now indeed is an ennobling women. The founding takes specically
place at Ichkansihoo: then (catun) they gathered (umolah) themselves (vbaob) at (te) Ichkan-
sihoo (ych caan sihoo). This particular passage introduces an elaborate description of tzolci pop set
in order was the mat that took place in a katun 13 Ahaw (Boot 1997c: 174-175; Schele, Grube, and
Boot 1998: 412-414). The preceding sentence in (ti) 11 Ahaw (Buluc ahau) thus (or then, tun),
the name (v Kaba) of the burden (Cu//chi) contains a calendrical reference to a katun 11 Ahaw.
The addition tun probably simply means thus or then, a common postx in Yucatec Maya (Bar-
rera Vsquez et al. 1980: 822). Other authors have suggested that it might be a reference to a tun period
11 Ahaw (Roys 1933: 74, Tun 11 Ahau), or that tun simply refers to time (period) (Edmonson 1986:
92, line 1106, the 11 Ahau time) (note 39). The sentence following the gathering at Ichkansihoo reads
here was (ti yan) the mat (yx pop) for (ti) the jaguar (balam). Throughout Mesoamerica, and

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112 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

to this the Maya area is no exception, the highest rulers were seated on mats, thrones, and jaguar seats
(cf. Boot 2000b). This sentence seems to identify Ichcansihoo as the place where the mat for the jaguar
was, the ocial seat of power. The ceremony took apparently place during the reign of Holtn Balam
and Pochek Ixtzoy, while a certain Tutul Xiw Ixtloal may have been present there too (Roys 1933: 73;
Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 413, 415, 426). The last sentence seems to identify the area or land where
it happened with the name of Chakt (chak te u lumil Chakt is the land), while this area or land is
identied as the capture (vchuk) by (or of ) the lordships or reigns (yahaulilob).
In the First Chumayel and the Tizimn Chronicle the reference tzolci pop was connected to a katun
13 Ahaw, while the above passage on the gathering at Ichkansihoo took place in a katun 11 Ahaw. These
related events, if correctly deduced, are thus dated slightly dierent (which happened also with the dis-
covery of the mouth of the well). Due to the natural order of the katun cycle, a katun 11 Ahaw follows a
katun 13 Ahaw. The particular arrival and founding here mentioned pertain to a period of A.D. 751-791
(LC: 9.16.0.0.1-9.18.0.0.0). This passage continues in the Chumayel (MS 10, lines 4-13) with a further
description of lands and territory (through particular ceremonies including measuring [ppis], sweeping
[mis], and placing of corners [uxukil]). It ends with the following lines, particularly important for the
calendrical placement:

//10// [...] Ca hoppi yocol patan tiobe: tu chi


chheen: ti Kuch vch ci: vKuchul vpa
15 tan: Cantul vinicobe: buluc ahau.
v Kaba v Ka tunil: Cuchi: ti baax tahi
patan te . Cetelace: Vpakte: vchi
yanile:Catun emi v patan holtun su
huy vate: cetel ace: ti cet hi uthanobi
20 oxlahun ahau vKatunil Cuchi: ti u
Kamahob patan halach vinicobi: [...]
(Chumayel: MS 10, lines 13-21)

//10// [...] Then began the introduction of tribute to them at


the mouth of the well; at arrival it occurred, the arrival
15 of tribute of the four people. 11 Ahaw
was the name of the katun when it occurred that they handled
tribute. At Cetelac the assembly, it happened
there. Then came down the tribute of Holtn
Suhuywh, at Cetelac, where made equal were their words.
20 13 Ahaw was the katun, it occurred that they
received tribute, the halach winiks. [...]
(translation by the author)

This passage leads to the introduction of tribute (yocol patan) to them (tiobe) at the mouth of the
well (tu chichheen). The next phrase (ti Kuch vch ci) seems to mean at arrival it occurred, ..., fol-
lowed by vKuchul vpatan the arrival of tribute. This particular passage on the introduction of tribute
is mentioned after the earlier passage on the founding of the lands. The reference to Cantul vinicobe
four (counted) people may refer back to those who came as part of the Great and Small Descent, the
Can tzuc or the can tzucul cab. This passage ends with references to katun 11 Ahaw (conrmation

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 113

of the ti Buluc ahau tun as mentioned earlier as indeed a katun reference) and a katun 13 Ahaw. These
katun periods are probably correct and these particular katun periods refer to these two passages (the
founding as well as introduction of tribute), but the correct calendrical order should be katun 13 Ahaw
followed by 11 Ahaw. A period of forty years, between A.D. 751-791 (9.16.0.0.1-9.18.0.0.0), may thus
be related to the founding ceremonies at Dzibilchaltn, which additionally led to the ocial founding
of Chichn Itz, which was marked by the arrival of tribute. These passages thus indicate that by A.D.
751-791 Chichn Itz became the seat of the mat, just as was described in the episode at Ichkansihoo.
When eventually tribute was received, Chichn Itz, in this last passage simply referred to as at the
mouth of the well, had become a political power of some prominence.
Several observations presented in previous studies on the particular passage involved with the gather-
ing and founding ceremony are no longer tenable. For instance, Mutupul was interpreted as a variant of
Mutul, the name of Tikal and the splinter kingdom of Dos Pilas (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 414;
Schele and Mathews 1998: 364). It was Roys (1933: 74 & note 2) who interpreted mutupul as Mutul,
according to him a variant for Motul, a place to the east of Mrida and Dzibilchaltn. As more recent epi-
graphic research reveals, the original name of Tikal and the kingdom of Dos Pilas-Aguateca was probably
Mutal (variously written as MUT, mu-MUT, MUT-tu, MUT-la) (cf. Grube and Martin 2000; Martin
and Grube 2000). In the note concerned with his original identication of the Tikal Emblem Glyph
as mut or mutul, David Stuart (n.d.c) refers to an entry in Yucatec Maya, namely mut pol for rodete
hacer la mujer de sus cabellos (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 542). It may thus be suggested that the place
name Mutupul can be interpreted as mut-u-pul, in which u is the third person possessive pronoun and
pul a variant of pol head (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 664, 896). There are several examples of /o/ to
/u/ shifts (and vice versa) in Mayan languages without a change in meaning (the phonemic change from
/o/ to /u/ in pul may even have been triggered by the root vowel /u/ in mut). With mut as rodete and
rodete [...] de sus cabellos, mut-u-pul can be translated as plait of the head. The root of this expression
is mut, the same root as for Mutal (mut+al, in which -al is probably a locative sux meaning [place of ]
abundance of ..., cf. Lacadena and Wichmann n.d.). In rare examples the normal Tikal main sign is
substituted by the head of a bird (e.g. Tikal, Altar V). A quite common Maya word for bird is mut (in
Chort, Chol, Chontal, Tzeltal, and Tzotzil, cf. Dienhart 1989: 58-59; Kaufman 2003: 619), but a dif-
ferent mut with still unknown meaning may have been intended (mut-al [place of ] abundance of mut).
Note as such the lizard-like animal head represented in some of the variants of the Tikal Emblem Glyph
as well as the full animal body as found in the possible Dos Pilas Emblem Glyph (both sites use the
same Emblem Glyph) in the throne text of Murcilagos Structure N5-3A (Demarest et al. 2003: Fig.
5.8). At present I am not convinced of the fact that Mutupul would indeed refer to the ancient kingdom
of Mutal (Tikal, or even Dos Pilas-Aguateca), but it remains a possibility. Also Ak (as in ah holtun
Ake) was interpreted as the name of a kingdom in the Southern Maya Lowlands, namely Bonampak
(Biro 2002; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 414; Schele and Mathews 1998: 364). The Bonampak area
Emblem Glyph can be transcribed a-ke, for which a transliteration ake can be postulated. The loca-
tion referred to in the Chumayel is Ake, also the name of the village where the Itz arrived after having
rst arrived at Ppole. As the authors indicated in their 1998 paper, Ak (new orthography: Ak) is also
the name of another town in Yucatn, located about halfway Mrida and Izamal. The Ak in the passage
above is situated in the northern section of the Yucatn peninsula, if it indeed is part of a migration route
that ends at Cetelac. This Cetelac has been identied as the name of a ranch near the ruins of Yaxun,
some 20 kilometers southeast of Chichn Itz. The prex Holtn to Ak is quite frequent in Yucatn
(see above) and possibly does not alter the direct identication of the town. Thus (Holtn) Ak does not
refer to Bonampak, but to some other place in (eastern) Yucatn, still of unknown location.

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114 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

More importantly, the relationship previously established between Ichcansihoo and Dzibilchaltn
is less secure. In the 1998 paper chakte was taken as the reading of a collocation (cf. also Schele and
Mathews 1998: 364), now more securely transliterated as either kalomte or chakte (depending on spell-
ing and axing; cf. Martin and Grube 2000, Wagner 1995c). The collocation formerly interpreted as
chakte opens the nominal phrase of an individual depicted on Dzibilchaltn Stela 19 and was used to
suggest a relationship between the name Chakt of the area captured or taken and Dzibilchaltn and its
ruler (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 414, 426). In light of the more secure transliteration kalomte (on
Stela 19 the title is written as KAL[TE]-ma), this particular suggestion also is no longer tenable. The
Stela 19 text records the titles and name of a Dzibilchaltn ruler, Kalomt Ukuw Chan Chak (Maldo-
nado C., Vo, and Gongora 1999: 11-12). Also here Kalomt functions as a title (Maldonado C., Vo,
and Gngora 1999: 9) (note 40). His title and name are followed by a clear Emblem Glyph (Boot
1996a: 23; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 414). It opens with kuhul god-like and ends in ahaw lord,
king. In between the kuhul adjective and ahaw title two collocations record the original name of the
polity of which Kalomt Ukuw Chan Chak was ruler. The second collocation was rst interpreted by
David Stuart and transcribed ti-ho for ti-ho, the Yucatec Maya name for ancient Mrida (Stuart, cited in
Garca Campillo 1995). Interestingly, the ti-ho collocation is preceded by a SERPENT glyph for either
CHAN or KAN. Its prex is still less satisfactorily deciphered, although a reading ICH?, as suggested
previously, may still be valid (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 414). The prex to the SERPENT sign may
be a variant sign for T128, which may be logographic TI (as recently suggested by Stuart [1997, cited in
Mora-Marn 2000a]) (compare to Maldonado C., Vo, and Gngora 1999: 14 & note 30 for dierent
identication). At least three parts of this sequence of hieroglyphic signs can be compared to the place
name ych caan sihoo for Ichkansiho, namely caan/SERPENT, si/ti, and hoo/ho. The original
name may thus have been Ichkantiho, which in the Colonial period became Ichkansiho. If correct,
the shift of /si/ to /ti/ still remains to be explained. While it has to be remembered that Ichkansihoo
referred to both Dzibilchaltn and Mrida, the explanation may be found in the following passages from
the Relacin de Tabi y Chunhuhub:

[...] En quanto al primer capitulo, la iudad de merida esta poblada en vn asiento y poblazon antigua en vn
asiento llano y alrededor della algunas abanas. Llamauanla los naturales Tiho o iho, que tanto suena como
naimiento o principio, porq~ pareze auer sido cabea de prov en vn tiempo por los edicios de piedra q~ los
conquistadores hallaron en ella, [...] (De la Garza et al. 1983: 153, 161; underlining in original)

Thus both Tiho and iho were used to refer to Mrida. Unfortunately this colonial text does not pro-
vide an explanation of the dierence between the names or the origin of this dierence, but both phrases
refer to the ancient name of the city of Dzibilchaltn.
At Dzibilchaltn only a few inscribed monuments have been found. Only parts of these monuments
(stelae and lintels) have survived, as they were re-used as building material. Other stelae found here are
plain. As described above, Stela 19 identies its ruler Kalomt Ukuw Chan Chak, whose nal resting
place was discovered in 1998. His cremated body was deposited in an urn below the oor of the main
room of Structure 42. Kalomt Ukuw Chan Chak became the rst Yucatecan ruler whose tomb was
found and positively identied. The body was identied through one of the associated burial gifts, an in-
cised bone spatula (in the inscription referred to as u-ha-chi-BAK-ki for u-hach-bak [it is] the incised
bone of ...) that carried his name and titles (cf. Maldonado C., Vo, and Gngora 1999). The incised
bone nor Stela 19, however, have a date, so we do not know when Kalomt Ukuw Chan Chak ruled. An-
other stela does carry a date, namely Stela 9, of which unfortunately only part survives. The text of Stela 9

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 115

records a date of which the half-period glyph and a collocation for 5 Ahaw can be identied. This date
has been reconstructed as *10.0.10.0.0, 6 Ahaw 8 Pop (A.D. 840), the half-period of katun 5 Ahaw
that ends in *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849) (Graa-Behrens 2002: 354). It has been suggested
that it was during this time that Kalomt Ukuw Chan Chak ruled at Dzibilchaltn (Maldonado C.,
Vo, and Gngora 1999: 12, 15). If correct, these dates are some 50 to 90 years after the gathering and
foundation dates as posited above. The surviving inscriptions do provide Dzibilchaltn with an impor-
tant position, as not many Yucatecan cities had a true Emblem Glyph (that is, a supreme hierarchical
title kuhul [toponym/polity name] ahaw), but at present no direct epigraphic information can be found
for a possible connection to the above passages from the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel. There
might, however, be an additional line of evidence of the importance of Dzibilchaltn for Chichn Itz.
Dzibilchaltn rulers carried the title kalomte, which in the Southern Maya Lowlands (especially during
the middle and early phases of the Late Classic) predominatly was used by the most important ruling lin-
eages at Tikal and Calakmul who acted as the overlords of other ruling lineages (cf. Martin and Grube
2000). Perhaps Dzibilchaltn, whose rulers bore the kalomte title, was the overlord and acted as the
sponsor for the gathering and nal foundation of Chichn Itz.
In the same 1998 paper some further possible archaeological and iconographic evidence was presented
through a discussion of a specic architectural group at Dzibilchaltn (the House of the Seven Dolls,
or Structure 1-sub) and an associated painted text consisting of a calendar round date of 6 Eb 5 Yaxkin
followed by a not yet deciphered glyph recording the event. This date was placed at *9.14.11.12.12,
6 Eb 5 Yaxkin (A.D. 723) or *9.17.4.7.12, 6 Eb 5 Yaxkin (A.D. 773) (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998:
414-415). In retrospect, also this evidence seems weak (for a more recent calendrical reconstruction and
multiple alternative placements, cf. Graa-Behrens 2002: 386). It should however be noted that the pas-
sages from the dierent chronicles as well as passages outside these chronicles describe particular events
that occurred at a place named Ych caan sihoo. This might be a reference to the ancient name of Dzib-
ilchaltn, as posited above, as both Tiho and iho refer to one place (in that particular case Mrida).
Although no direct epigraphic or archaeological evidence can be presented in favor of the occurrence of
the gathering and the subsequent foundation event for the period A.D. 751-791, it is clear that by A.D.
840 rulers at Dzibilchaltn erected inscribed monuments and its rulers were identied by the high title
of kuhul ahaw god-like lord or king. The evidence of the gathering and the foundation may come from
Chichn Itz itself.

In the 1920s a cache was found at the Caracol structure in Chichn Itz. This cache contained the two
halves of a stela or panel and a tenoned disk, as well as some additional objects of stone (Morley 1923:
262-263; Ruppert 1935: 135, 140, Figs. 163-169). The Tenoned Disk has a double register scene on its
front plane (Figure 2.35a), while the circumference contains a hieroglyphic inscription (Figure 2.35b). In
a previous study only a rudimentary description (two short paragraphs) of the double register scene and
its hieroglyphic text was presented (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 415). Here follows a more detailed
description and interpretation.
The orientation of the two registers suggests that the disk was once mounted with its tenon down and
in this position it is permanently exhibited in the Regional Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in
Mrida. The original location of this sculpted and inscribed tenon is unknown, but as it was found buried
as part of a cache at the Caracol it may have belonged to an earlier phase of that building or a building
nearby. The scene of the upper register depicts six gures, three on each side, and they are turned towards
a central hour-glass shaped brazier from which smoke scrolls emanate. All six gures are depicted from the
side and they all wear elaborate headdresses. Their costumes consist of a waist belt and short skirt, a broad

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116 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

collar or a necklace made of a single row of beads,


as well as ornaments around lower legs, knees, feet,
and wrists. Several small birds can be identied in
this scene and it has been suggested that these birds
may refer to the yaxun, cotinga, that was given to
Chakan (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 415; em-
phasis in original). An exact identication, howev-
er, of the bird species depicted is not possible and as
such a connection between the birds and Chakan is
premature. Two of the gures on the left side cross
their left arm over their chest, while their left hand
reaches the right shoulder. This gesture is reminis-
cent of a gesture described in a sentence contained
in the work of the Spanish historiographer Juan de
Villagutierre Soto-Mayor. In this work, on the con-
quest of the Itz kingdom in the central Petn, he
wrote:

[...] luego que llegaron saludaron los dos Capitanes


(Itzaex) los Religiosos su usana que es, echar
el brao derecho sobre el ombro, en seal de Paz y
Amistad. [...] (Villagutierre Soto-Mayor 1985
[1701]: 121 [Lib. II, Cap. 2]; emphasis mine).

Although in the scene on the tenoned disk it is


the left arm instead of the right arm, both gestures
Figure 2.35 Chichn Itz, Caracol Building, may indicate that the participants are at peace and
Tenoned Disk: Front Image and Circumference Text friendship with each other (for the interpretation
(drawings by Alexander Vo) of other arm and hand gestures in Classic iconogra-
phy, cf. Ancona-Ha, Prez de Lara, and Van Stone
2000). The two gures on the right do not cross their arms over the chest but each gure carries some
kind of oering in his hands. All gures are male. The two central gures (on the left and right side of
the brazier) are slightly larger than the other gures. The gure on the left side of the brazier seems to
stretch his left arm to present a gift in the form of some kind of anthropomorphic creature (possibly the
small anthropomorphic image of a god), while the gure on the right side of the brazier stretches his
right arm diagonally with his hand in a position generally associated in Maya iconography with scatter-
ing or sprinkling, the so-called chok- chah to scatter drops event. To compare, on Nimli Punit Stela 15
(Figure 2.36), dated to the period-ending of 9.14.10.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Mak (A.D. 721), the central gure
also scatters drops into a burning brazier from which emanate smoke scrolls. His two attendants perform
the same action. On El Cayo Altar 4 (Figure 2.37), dedicated to *9.13.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 13 Yax (A.D. 731),
again a scattering event is recorded. The local El Cayo lord scattered drops towards a brazier lled with
bundles of wooden sticks, placed upon a small altar. In general this scattering event is associated with
period-endings. On the Caracol tenoned disk the gure holds a bag in his right hand (compare to Nimli
Punit Stela 15 and El Cayo Altar 4). This bag probably contained the material he scattered, the drops
or kernels referred to as chah, possibly made of some kind of liquid like tree resin (i.e. drops made of

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 117

Figure 2.36 Nimli Punit, Stela


15, Front (drawing by John
Montgomery)

Figure 2.37 El Cayo, Altar 4,


Top (drawing by Peter Mathews)

incense). In general, this bag is referred to as an incense bag. From behind this gure ascends a serpent
and from its opened jaws emerges the upper torso of a human gure. The serpent is clearly a rattle snake,
while on the end of the rattles a small tu of feathers can be found. The head of the emerging human
gure seems to be covered with long hair, falling onto his shoulders, but it may be some kind of mosaic
headdress made of small elements below which his long hair falls onto his shoulders (see below). He
wears a simple ear are, while on top of his headdress two large feathers can be found. This gure can be
identied as a warrior, of which the long-shafted single point javelin and spearthrower in his hands are
indicative. A warrior emerging from the opened jaws of a rising serpent is particularly reminiscent of the
scene depicted on Yaxchiln Lintel 25 (Figure 2.38), as well as Copn Stela 6 (Figure 2.39).
At Yaxchiln the scene on the underside of Lintel 25 depicts the materialization of a bicephalic vision
serpent. Its primary hieroglyphic text refers to this scene as [A1] on *9.12.9.8.1, 5 Imix 4 Mak (A.D.
681), [B1] u-tzak-aw u-kawil-il he conjured the representation of, [C1] u-tok u-pakal the (carriers of
the) int, the shield of [D1] ah kak o chak Ah Kak O Chak [E1] u-kuh-ul tzak (it is) the god-like
conjuring of [F1-F2] chan/kan winikhab ahaw itzamnah balam Four Katun King Itzamnah Balam
[F3-F4] u-chan(ul) ah nik(?)(il), kuhul kab(?) ahaw bakab (he is) the guardian of Ah Nik(?)(il), God-
like King of Yaxchiln, First/Head (of the) World. In this sentence kawil does not refer to the name of
a particular god (by Mayanists generally referred to as God K, cf. Schellhas 1897, 1904; Taube 1992),
but to kawil as a representation, statue of a deity or divine entity (Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993:
196-199 & note 45; Koontz and Cux Garca 1993: 1-2). It is thus the representation of the (carriers of
the) int and the shield of Ah Kak O Chak which is conjured here. This particular manifestation of
the rain god Chak may be identied as a patron god of Yaxchiln. This representation manifests itself
as a giant ascending bicephalic serpent and from its opened jaws emerges a human gure dressed as a

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118 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

warrior. The conjuring was performed by


Itzamnah Balam II, the then current ruler
of Yaxchiln, while Chahom Ix(ik) Kabal
Xok, one of his wives and named in a sec-
ondary text (H1-H3), seems to communi-
cate with the human gure emerging from
the opened jaws of the rising bicephalic
serpent, actually part serpent and part
centipede (cf. Boot 1999c, 2000a, Ket-
tunen and Davis 2004). She holds a bowl
of oerings in one of her hands, while a se-
cond bowl with oerings is placed on the
ground, above which a kind of smoke scroll
is depicted that intertwines with the lower
half of the rising bicephalic serpent. This
rising serpent, the embodiment of the Teo-
tihuacan-derived Classic Maya war serpent
often named Waxaklahun Ubah Chan/
Kan Eighteen are the Images or Heads of
the Serpent (cf. Freidel, Schele, and Parker
1993; Taube 1992), is referred to in a short
secondary text as [G1] u-bah-il-an ix(ik) ol
[G2] wi crossed bundles te nah (it is)
the image (-bah-) created (an?) of Ix(ik) Ol
Wi-Crossed Bundles-Te House (nah).
This Root Crossed Bundles Tree House
is a common reference to the Classic Maya
house of the founder(s) (cf. Schele 1990). Figure 2.38 Yaxchiln, Lintel 25 (drawing by Ian Graham
The human gure emerging from the [Graham and Von Euw 1977: 55])
opened serpent jaws is dressed as a warrior,
notable are the double pointed javelin or throwing dart and the round shield. It is this emerging human
gure who may be Ix(ik) Ol (Zender, personal communication, March 10-11, 2001 [XXIVth TMM,
Austin]). If correct, she wears a jaguar pelt covered balloon headdress with attached central Mexican year-
sign. An elaborate nose plaque or mask is depicted in front of her face. This plaque, viewed from the side,
has (an) oval disk(s) for its eye(s), and a row of small teeth, from which scrolls (of water?) seem to fall
down. This headdress and plaque or mask are particularly indicative of a warrior status (cf. Freidel, Schele,
and Parker 1993: 308-309; Schele and Freidel 1990: 146-147, 209-210, 258-259, 295). Also note the
depiction of the balloon headdress and nose piece or mask emerging from the other set of opened jaws
depicted on the lower left of the lintel. In previous research, it has been suggested that the human gure
is the manifestation of the male founder of the Yaxchiln dynasty (e.g. Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993:
185, 308), who was named Yopat Balam (YOP?-AT BALAM) (cf. Martin and Grube 2000: 118, for
this name as Yoaat Balam). More recently, as an alternative it has been suggested that it is Itzamnah
Balam II himself who emerges as the warrior from the open jaws as defender of the city (Martin and
Grube 2000: 125). All things considered, it is more probable that it is a founder and/or ancestor (here
thus possibly female), dressed as a warrior, who is emerging from the serpent-centipede jaws.

chapter-2.indd 118 20-12-2004 14:11:36


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 119

A similar conjuring event is de-


picted on Copn Stela 6. From the
bicephalic serpent emerging from
both sides of the ceremonial bar held
in his arms, a Copn ruler conjures
an entity that wears the headdress
and nose plaque or mask as used on
Yaxchiln Lintel 25. The ruler, the
twelfth successor nicknamed Smoke-
Imix-God K (or simply Smoke Imix,
cf. Martin and Grube 2000: 200; pos-
sibly in Classic Maya his name was
Kakutiha/Kak U Ti Ha Kawil),
wears the typical turban headdress
of Copn that is set with the central
Mexican year sign as well as a frontal
depiction of the nose plaque or facial
mask (note the two round disks, the
row of small teeth, and the scrolls).
The text on the back opens with the
dates 9.12.10.0.0, 9 Ahaw 18 Zotz
(A.D. 682) and records the associat-
ed event as u-chok(-chah) (it is) his
scattering or sprinkling (of drops)
(the presence of the gloss chah may
Figure 2.39 Copn, Stela 6 (drawing by Linda Schele) simply be derived from the fact that
the drops are depicted falling from
the opened hand sign for chok). In-
terestingly, the glyph that follows the event depicts a plate, which may mean that the ruler scattered or
sprinkled drops onto a plate. Frequently in Maya hieroglyphic writing a preposition ti or ta in, on, at,
onto is not provided (cf. Stuart and Houston 1994: 7-18). The hieroglyphic sign for the plate probably
has the logographic value LAK for lak (cf. Stuart 1986b & n.d.d), a common word for clay object or
plate in for instance Yucatec Maya (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 433) and Cholt (Hopkins and Hop-
kins n.d.: 23; Boot 2004d: 21, 36 [Morn 1935/1695: MS, Part 3, pp. 27, 51]). Specically note the
burning (spiked ceramic) braziers at Chichn Itz, El Cayo, and Nimli Punit (maybe the phrase at Copn
can be transliterated as u-chok-chah [ti] lak (it is) the scattering of drops on a plate or brazier). This
event specically takes place on the half-period as indicated by the phrase ti tan-lam-il. In the text on
one of its sides, the scene itself is described as tzak-w-iy waxaklahun ubah chan/kan ochkin kalomte con-
jured (was) Eighteen-are-the-Images/Heads-of-the-Serpent (by) West Kalomt. From an orthographic
point of interest, note the SERPENT-nu collocation instead of the more regular SERPENT-na colloca-
tion. Another stela at Copn (Stela 13) even provides a spelling CHAK ba?-ya ka-SERPENT-nu for
chak bay kan great or red fat(?) serpent, which may indicate that at Copn the Classic gloss for serpent
was kan instead of chan (according to some spelling principles the -nu sux may provide a complex
vowel in the root; according to another spelling principle it may provide, or anticipate, a derivational
possessive sux -ul as in the u-chan-u(l) spellings: u-cha-nu, u-cha-SERPENT, u-cha-SERPENT-nu,

chapter-2.indd 119 20-12-2004 14:11:39


120 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

u-SERPENT-nu). As no other date is recorded in the hieroglyphic texts on this stela, I surmise that both
events (scattering and conjuring) took place on the same day, possibly as part of the same ceremony. The
bicephalic serpent, emerging from both sides of the ceremonial bar that Smoke-Imix-God K holds in his
arms, is the Waxaklahun Ubah Chan/Kan or War Serpent (Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993: 309-310).
The ruler Smoke-Imix-God K is referred to as Ochkin Kalomt West (ochkin) Opener (kalom) Tree
(te), a title only carried by the most important rulers. We should also recall the oating ancestor and
founder as depicted in the top of the scene on Ucanal Stela 4. In this scene the ancestor and founder oat
within the connements of a cloud, rising above the two depicted human gures. He is also dressed as a
warrior. The Ucanal stela itself is dated to *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 3 Kayab (A.D. 849) and the associated
event is scattering (at Ucanal recorded as u-chok-ow chah he scattered drops). An early Classic example
of a oating ancestor can be found in the top of the scene on the front of Tikal Stela 31. In this scene the
oating ancestor is Nun Yax Ahin I, the father of the depicted Tikal ruler Siyah Chan/Kan Kawil II. Ac-
cording to the long hieroglyphic text on the back of this stela, it is dedicated to 9.0.10.0.0, 7 Ahaw 3 Yax,
a half-period. A normal event associated with this dedicatory date is not recorded, only the fact that it is
a half-period event. This particular half-period is related to the naming of nine gods (see Chapter 3
for an in-depth discussion of this stela, its iconography and hieroglyphic texts).
In sum, the event depicted in the upper register on the Caracol tenoned disk at Chichn Itz is a
scattering event possibly associated with some kind of period-ending event. The human gure emerging
from the opened jaws of the ascending serpent tentatively can be identied as a founder who is dressed as
a warrior. If correct, the conjuring of the rising serpent with the founder emerging from its opened jaws
is an event from after the foundation, when the founder or founders were already deceased and could as
such be identied and venerated. The conjuring itself is a typical Classic Maya event and it is in general
only performed by ruling dynasts and attended by their closest relatives or allies (note Nimli Punit Stela
15). More importantly, if correct, the ancestor and founder emerging from the opened jaws of the rising
serpent in the upper register of the tenoned disk identies the presence of a dynasty of rulers in Classic
Southern Maya Lowland tradition, of which the Yaxchiln example is the most eloquent representation.
The individual who is doing the scattering and who is responsible for the conjuring of the rising serpent
is thus a ruling dynast or kuhul ahaw god-like king in the Classic Southern Maya Lowland tradi-
tion. More dicult to interpret is the scene in the lower register. The lower register contains ve human
gures, three on the left side and two on the right side. The costumes of the gures on the left side are
particularly elaborate, note for instance the serpent headdress of the gure on the far left. In the center
of the scene two gures meet. The one on the left seems to hold an oering in his opened at hand from
which emanate smoke scrolls. The gure on the right holds in his right hand a burning torch. This torch
is important. Visually it looks very much like the crossed bundles in the collocation for the founders
house (see Yaxchiln Lintel 25). These crossed bundles, as Taube (2000) has shown, are bundles to be
burned in some kind of ritual, also note the torch holding gures at the north building of Uxmals Nun-
nery Quadrangle (cf. Schele and Mathews 1998: 272, Fig. 7.23). Although the particular contents of
founding rituals in the Maya area is still quite enigmatic (not to say largely unknown), in central Mexico
the following ceremonies in relation to founding, referred to as a ceremonia de posesin, are described for
the Chichimeca:

[...]. Este acuerdo y mandato de Xlotl le pareci muy bien a los seores sus vasallos, y luego l personalmente,
con su hijo el prncipe Nopaltzin y alguna gente, as nobles como plebeyos, sali de la ciudad y se fue derecho
a un monte que se dice Ycotl, que cae hacia el poniente a respecto de aquella ciudad, muy alta; se subi sobre
l, y fue la primera parte que hizo las diligencias que ellos usaban, tirando un seor chichimeca cuatro echas

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 121

con todas sus fuerzas los cuatro partes del mundo, occidente y oriente, norte y sur; y despus, atando el esparto
por las puntas, y haciendo fuego y otros ritos y ceremonias de posesin que ellos usaban, se baj del cerro, [...]
(Ixtlilxchitl 1985, vol. 1: 295-296).

Some of these ceremonias de posesin have a bellicose character, of which shooting arrows to the four
corners of the world and grasping of the grasses by the tips clearly are examples. At the end of the pas-
sage on the founding, the gathering of the lords or kings, and the installment of the mat in the Book of
Chilam Balam of Chumayel, there is a passage that reads Chakt was the land (chak te u lumil) of the
capture (vchuk) by the lordships (yahaulilob) (Chumayel MS 10, line 4). The use of vchuk is of im-
portance here. In Yucatec Maya chuk- is recorded as aprehender y asir as well as ganar conquistando.
The expression chuc luum, chuc cah is specically recorded as conquistar tierras (Barrera Vsquez
et al. 1980: 111). Thus u lumil vchuk as the land of the capture may be interpreted as a conquest
(Schele and Mathews 1998: 364). If correctly deduced, also the Maya seem to envision the founding as
the forceful taking possession of new territory. This deduction may be further substantiated through the
fact that the item hedz luum, as used frequently in the passages cited from the Books of Chilam Balam,
in Yucatec Maya is recorded in colonial Spanish as tomar posesin (see above and note 37).
Among the Chichimeca, as described by Ixtlilxchitl, the ceremonias de posesin were elaborate and
also included the making of re. The burning torch in the lower register as well as the burning brazier
in the upper register may be the result of a re making ritual, but this is only a tentative suggestion. In
the iconography and the inscriptions at Chichn Itz there are various references to events associated
with re. Iconographic references to re rituals can be found in some of the carved tablets at the Venus
Platform (although in this case probably calendrical in nature), while the inscriptions record such events
as hoch- kak to drill re and pul- ti kak to sprinkle into re (see Chapter 4). In the lower register the
gures on the right are joined by two dogs (cf. Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 415). The function of these
dogs in the scene is still not clear. Dogs may simply have accompanied the Itz on their journey, note for
instance the dog depicted with the traveling group as painted on the Cham style Ratinlinxul Vase (Kerr
No. 0594) from the Chixoy valley in Guatemala (Morley, Brainerd, and Sharer 1983: Fig. 13.41; Sharer
1994: Fig. 15.16; also note Kerr No. 5534 & 6317). It has to be noted that recently Kerr (2001) sug-
gested that the traveling group on the Ratinlinxul Vase and other ceramics may depict deceased people
carried in a litter on their nal journey to the underworld. In Mesoamerica the dog is believed to accom-
pany people to the realm of the dead. Alternatively, it may indicate that the scene in the lower register
took place at night (Alexander Vo, personal communication, December 2000 [5th EMC, Bonn]).

The circumference of the tenoned disk contains a long hieroglyphic text. This text contains 24 positions
(A-Y), consisting of either one or more collocations. It opens at [A] with a collocation providing the
event, which tentatively can be transcribed as u-u-lu (also independently suggested by Vo 1999: 15,
although he has abandoned this reading more recently; personal communication, December 2000 [5th
EMC, Bonn]). Alternatively ka-ka-pu has been suggested (Garca Campillo 2000: 33). Both sug-
gested transcriptions have a certain appeal. The transcription ka-ka-pu may lead to a root kak re,
suggestive of some kind of re ritual (note lower register). The identication of the third sign as -pu is
incorrect, however. This sign represents the syllable lu, thus a transcription ka-ka-lu would be more
appropriate. Additionally, the identication of the preceding signs as ka is incorrect, as to my knowl-
edge no T669b ka sign ever has a prominent cross-hatched dot for an eye. Both these signs can be
identied as cephalomorphic variants of one of the signs for u. Some of the variant signs of the normal
T513 u have a prominent cross-hatched dot, note for instance T731, a codex variant for u. If correct,

chapter-2.indd 121 20-12-2004 14:11:39


122 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

u-u-lu may lead to a transliteration u(u)l-, in which u(u)l- may be a variant of the verb hul(el) and
ul- to arrive, for arrived (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 243 & 900). The collocations at [B-N], thus
following the possible arrival event, seem to record the names and titles of several individuals. The fact
that ve times the title ahaw appears (C2, F, H, L2, and N2) may indicate that the names of ve indi-
viduals are recorded, each identied as ahaw lord, king. There is no other means of separating these
possible ve individuals as no relationship statements are recorded, a feature not uncommon in other
inscriptions in which several individuals are introduced (e.g. Palenque, House C, Hieroglyphic Stairway
& Panel of Unknown Provenance, Brussels). While individual signs for the possible nominal or titular
phrases preceding each ahaw can be identied, no further transcription will presented as no translitera-
tion based on incomplete transcriptions can be considered valid. After the fth ahaw title, the text con-
tinues in [O-P]. The rst of these seems to contain the combination TUN-ni for tun stone; period of
360 days at [O2] (note 41). If correct, the collocations at position O may be some kind of calendrical
introductory phrase. At position [P] there appears the calendrical statement, namely u-TWO-pi-
EIGHT-AHAW for u-ka-pi(s tun), waxak ahaw (it is) the second measured (period of 360 days) (in
katun) 8 Ahaw. This is a calendrical statement in a typical Yucatecan tradition named katun Ahaw dat-
ing (cf. Thompson 1937; cf. also Graa-Behrens 2002). It refers to the second tun-period of a katun
8 Ahaw. This date may place the arrival event at a particular important date. Recently, Vo (1999: 15)
suggested that it refers to an arrival event in the second tun of a katun 8 Ahaw that ended in A.D. 948,
a calendrical placement also preferred by Garca Campillo (2000: 34) (see Table 2.1) and Graa-Behrens
(2002: 337). However, if the above reconstruction of the chronological placement of the discovery of
the mouth of the well by the migrating Itz is correct, the katun 8 Ahaw here recorded may refer to the
katun 8 Ahaw of A.D. 672-692. This is the rst of three katun periods specically associated with the
original discovery and would explain the recording of the arrival event at the beginning of this hiero-
glyphic text. The fact that possibly ve nominal phrases are recorded after the arrival event may be co-
incidental, but it should be noted that there are ve human gures depicted in the lower register of the
tenoned disk (rst noted by Nikolai Grube during the 1995 Texas Maya Meetings; personal communica-
tion, March 1995 [XIXth TMM, Austin]). If correct, the scene in the lower register would precede the
scene in the upper register. The text continues with a probable event at position [Q], but due to erosion
too little detail survives to present any valid transcription (the third sign may be syllabic ha, used in many
examples to lead to a CVC-ah verbal ending). The collocations at [R-S1] and [S2-U] each record a
nominal phrase ending with the title ahaw. The nominal phrase at [S2-U] is of particular importance
here, as the title recorded at position [U] may transcribe [i?]tza-AHAW-wa for itza() ahaw, a title of
origin referring to the Itz (Boot 1997a: 6; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 415) (cf. Vo 1999: 6, 15 &
2001: 158, who prefers a transcription hi-tsa & Garca Campillo 2000: 333-34 who prefers a tran-
scription yi-tsa; note Martin and Grube 2000: 227, hitza ahaw). The collocations at [V-X] may
provide an additional important nominal phrase, which has been interpreted as Aj Holtun Balam Peten
Itzamal (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 415). This phrase was associated with the Holtn Balam men-
tioned in the Chumayel passage relative to the founding ceremony (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 412).
The transliteration is based on a transcription [V] a-ho-lo-TUN-ni, [W] ba?-la?-ma?, and [X] PET?-ni
ITZAM?-ma-la. The added queries represent doubt in the identication of some of the signs. However,
the title Ah Holtn He/Person from Holtn seems to be correct and is accepted by other epigraphers
(e.g. Garca Campillo 2000: 33-34; Vo 1999: 8-9). But as we have seen already above, there are many
place names that incorporate Holtn. As such the collocations following ah holtun are of importance. At
present I am less secure about the part balam, while peten itzamal is still a possibility, depending on the
logographic value of ITZAM. If correct, itzamal may function here as an adjective (and not as a to-

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 123

ponym) and refer to an itzam-like person (-Vl sux for -ly/-like, compare to kuh-ul god-like), in
which Itzam may be the name of an important cultural hero or god. Itzam forms part of the name Itz-
amn, the most important Yucatec Maya god, while according to Lpez de Cogolludo it was a certain
Zamn who came to Yucatn from the west (see above and Chapter 3). If itzamal is indeed an adjective,
instead of a toponym (as in Izamal, or *Itzam-nal Place of Itzam or *Itzam-al [Place of ] Abundance of
Itzam), the collocations at position [Y] become of importance. These have not been previously inter-
preted (but see: Garca Campillo 2000: 34-34). [Y1] contains a main sign that can be identied as a
variant of T573 TZAK and accordingly this collocation can be transcribed TZAK-AHAW-wa for tzak
ahaw. This title may belong to Ah Holtn Balam Peten Itzamal, if it is correctly deduced that every
nominal ends in an ahaw title. While ahaw is a generic title for lord, king, it is tzak that is of impor-
tance here. Among the many meanings in Yucatec Maya of tzak are estado, medida general para las
milpas; nudo de caa, gradas, escaln; curar, medicinar as well as aumentar, aadir; contar (Barrera
Vsquez et al. 1980: 871-873). In epigraphic studies a meaning to add, to accumulate; to make whole
(Zender 1999: 72-74) or to put in order (Stuart, Houston, and Robertson 1999: II-32) is generally
preferred when there is a numerated combination of tzak and ahaw. In Classic Maya inscriptions tzak is
used as the root in specic counts referring to the succession of rulers, like for instance u-chawinik-tzak-
bu(h)-il ahaw or (he is) the (u) twenty second (chawinik, or kawinik) added, accumulated, made whole
or put in order (tzak-bu(h)-il) lord or king (ahaw) (inclusive to the founder). This kind of reference only
is used for those rulers who are acknowledged to be legitimate successors to the founder. Although very
tentative, tzak ahaw may thus identify the rst ruler from which later rulers would claim descent (no
other successor title has been identied at Chichn Itz). The opening numeral hun one is often de-
leted in other contexts; for instance, a winikhab ajaw is a one katun king. In that case itzam-al, as an
adjective, would modify tzak ahaw. The text ends in [Y2] with a possible deictic expression, a common
feature in the inscriptions at Chichn Itz (Garca Campillo 2000: 10-12, 34) (note 42). The nal nom-
inal phrase may thus transliterate Ah Holtn Balam Petn Itzamal Tzak Ahaw.
In sum, the two registers on the front plane of the Caracol tenoned disk may depict two important
events. The lower register may depict the arrival and founding of Chichn Itz by ve lords (possibly
these ve represent a larger number of lords). The burning torch may be indicative of such a founding or
ceremonia de posesin. The upper register involves a scattering ceremony and the conjuring of a serpent
from which opened jaws emerges a human gure, the ancestor and original founder who is dressed as a
warrior. This is a scene in Classic Southern Maya Lowland tradition, which identies both the dynastic
ancestor and founder as well as the contemporary dynast who performs the scattering ceremony and the
conjuring of the ascending serpent. The two registers thus depict two dierent events separated by some
period of time (at least in time the two scenes are separated by the death of the founder, otherwise he
can not emerge from the conjured serpent). The hieroglyphic text on the circumference of the tenoned
stone possibly opens with an event u(u)l- arrived ..., which is followed by ve nominal phrases that
each end in a title ahaw lord, king. These ve nominals may refer to the ve individuals in the lower
register. After these nominals a calendrical statement records the fact that it (the arrival) took place in
the second tun of (katun) 8 Ahaw, which may indicate the period A.D. 673-674, part of the katun
8 Ahaw that ended in A.D. 692. This particular placement correlates with the katun 8 Ahaw of A.D.
672-692 in which according to the Tizimn Chronicle the Itz discovered the mouth of the well. After
the date there followed at least three more nominals, if ahaw titles are indeed indicative. Among them
is an itza ahaw and a possible tzak ahaw, the last a title that may identify the possible dynastic founder
named Ah Holtn Balam Petn Itzamal Tzak Ahaw. If correct, this particular phrase may even identify
the individual emerging from the opened jaws of the rising serpent.

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124 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Ceramics and the Hieroglyphic Record at Chichn Itz

To recapitulate, the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz took place in a period covering katun
8 Ahaw to 4 Ahaw, circa A.D. 672-731. In this period dierent groups of Itz (possibly also including
non-Itz groups) arrived at the mouth of the well from the Southern Maya Lowlands, either through a
direct migration or a migration that rst took them to the Bacalar-Chetumal area or Ppole on the eastern
coast before nally to arrive at the mouth of the well. These groups of Itz possibly consisted of refugees
who migrated north as the result of rising warfare in the southern regions. The period of katun 13 Ahaw
and 11 Ahaw, circa A.D. 751-791, was associated with an assembly and dynastic foundation that took
place at Dzibilchaltn and which led to the beginning of rulership at Chichn Itz. These are, however,
reconstructions of events having their origin outside of Chichn Itz. The tenoned disk at the Caracol, an
important building at Chichn Itz, may contain references to these specic events in both its text and
imagery: arrival, founding, and the conjuring of the dynastic ancestor in a later ceremony.
Until now the dates relative to Chichn Itz are reconstructed dates derived from ethnohistorical
sources, based on specic historical events (warfare, migrations, discovery, and arrival) which have their
origin in the Southern Maya Lowlands. It is from that area that most dated and inscribed monuments
discussed previously came from. Besides reconstructed dates from ethnohistorical sources, it is archaeo-
logical research at and on Chichn Itz that provides several dating methods for the chronology of the
site. Archaeological research at Chichn Itz began in earnest in the 1920s as a joined project of the
Carnegie Institution of Washington and the Direccin General de Monumentos Prehispnicos of the
Mexican Government (cf. Ruppert 1952). During the 1920s and 1930s consolidation and reconstruc-
tion of the most important structures were of primary concern and both short and extensive excavation
reports were published (e.g. Bolles 1977; Morris, Charlot, and Morris 1931; Ruppert 1931, 1935, 1943,
1952). A substantial collection of ceramic material was acquired at these buildings that rst was analyzed
and categorized by Brainerd (1958). Ceramics are a rst instrument in the reconstruction of the chronol-
ogy of a site or region. The same material was later used by Smith (1971), who also conducted his own
excavations at Chichn Itz. In his description of the ceramic sequence and chronology for the whole of
Northern Yucatn, Smith proposed four major ceramic complexes, each identied by a dierent name
(Cehpech, Sotut, Hocab, and Tases), for the period of circa A.D. 700-1500. Smith did recognize a
transitional phase between the last two complexes, but, as he admitted diculty in its precise identica-
tion, it is not included here. The chronological order of his four ceramic complexes is as follows:

Cehpech Complex circa A.D. 700-1000


Sotut Complex circa A.D. 1000-1250
Hocab Complex circa A.D. 1250-1300
Tases Complex circa A.D. 1300-1450

In this sequence, the Cehpech Complex was viewed as an indigenous product and associated with Maya
architecture. The Sotut Complex was identied to be indicative of the Early Postclassic and was viewed
to be associated with a Toltec-phase Chichn Itz, as originally proposed by Tozzer in 1957.
During the past 20 to 25 years, Smiths proposed chronology for Northern Yucatn has been ques-
tioned (cf. Ball 1977; Robles Castellanos 1987) and partial and even total overlap of the Cehpech and
Sotut complexes have been proposed (cf. Lincoln 1986). As Kepecs recently noted:

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 125

Smith (1971) split Cehpech and Sotuta chronologically, linking the former to the Terminal Classic and the
latter to the Early Postclassic. However, more recent research from projects across the peninsula indicates
at least partial temporal overlap between the two spheres. Empirically, their relationship varies across space.
Cehpech and Sotuta frequently occur together; but while Cehpech clearly predominates at the Puuc sites
(Smith 1971), Coba (Robles Castellanos 1990), Ek Balam (Bey et al. 1992; Ringle et al. 1991), and Yaxuna
(see Robles Castellanos 1990), stronger ties to the Itza-related Sotuta complex are evident in Chikinchel at
Isla Cerritos (Andrews et al. 1988; Robles Castellanos 1987), and across much of the Cupul region between
Chichen and the coast ([...]; and see Anderson 1998; Andrews et al. 1989; Kepecs and Gallareta Negrn 1995;
Kepecs et al. 1994) (Kepecs 1998: 126).

The spatial variation of Cehpech and Sotut ceramics is particularly notable. Chichn Itz can be identi-
ed as the center at which Sotut ceramics originate. Prominent among the ceramic wares that constitute
the Sotut Complex is X Fine Orange (cf. Brainerd 1958, Smith 1971). If Sotut ceramics are identied
at sites outside the Chikinchel-Cupul area, in which Chichn Itz is situated, it always belongs to a late
occupational phase (e.g. Uxmal, cf. Kowalski 1987: 33). Based on the research indications described by
Kepecs, in a recent contribution the authors Ringle, Gallareta Negrn, and Bey (1998: 189-192, Figure
5) proposed a new ceramic sequence for Chichn Itz in particular as well as for the region of Northern
Yucatn in general. It can be summarized as follows:

Chichn Itz
Sotut Complex circa A.D. 700-1000
Sotut-Hocab Complex circa A.D. 1000-1150
Hocab-Tases Complex circa A.D. 1150-1250
Tases Complex circa A.D. 1250-1500

Northern Yucatn
Cehpech Complex circa A.D. 700-1150
Tases Complex circa A.D. 1150-1500

Their new ceramic chronology is primarily supported by radiocarbon dates and hieroglyphic calendrical
statements found at the various buildings at Chichn Itz at which ceramics have been found (compare
to Barrera Rubio 2000; Prez de Hereda Puente 1998, n.d.; Schmidt 2000a, 2000b). Radiocarbon
dates, a second archaeological research instrument in reconstructing a chronology, are known from four
structures at Chichn Itz (La Iglesia, Casa Colorada, Las Monjas East Wing, and El Castillo)
and range from A.D. 636 (663) 690 (La Iglesia) to A.D. 780 (891) 1000 (El Castillo) (radiocarbon
dates here are provided with their calibrated midpoint as well as their 1-Sigma range, cf. Ringle, Gallareta
Negrn, and Bey 1998: Table 1; cf. also Cobos 1997, 1998a & Cohodas 1978).
At present the inscriptions at Chichn Itz provide some 30 calendrical statements (see below &
Chapter 4). These calendrical statements are the third and perhaps most important indigenous source of
chronological information. There is only one complete Long Count or Initial Series date at Chichn Itz
(at the Temple of the Initial Series Lintel), vestiges of at least two other possible Initial Series as identi-
ed by Beyer (1937: 147) can be found on Fragment 168 from the High Priests Grave (Beyer 1937: Fig.
704; Boot 1999f: 37, Fig. 8 [p. 54]) and the so-called Serpents Tail (Beyer 1937: Figs. 705, 710, Table
VII). All the other dates at Chichn Itz consist of a Calendar Round correlated with a numbered tun and
placed with a particular katun Ahaw. This particular method of recording dates was rst deciphered by

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126 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Thompson (1937). Some dates only record a certain numbered tun within a particular katun Ahaw. For
example the date 16th Tun in 1 Ahaw (Caracol Stela: A1-B1), which means a date placed somewhere
in the sixteenth tun in a katun that ends on 1 Ahaw or between *10.2.15.0.1 until *10.2.16.0.0 (A.D.
884-885). Here follows the chronological order of 24 of these calendrical statements. These are the ones
that are most securely dated and most generally accepted (cf. Boot 1997c, 1999e; Garca Campillo 2000;
Graa-Behrens 2002; Graa-Behrens, Prager, and Wagner 1999; Kelley 1982; Krochock 1988, 1998;
Schele and Freidel 1990; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998; Schele and Mathews 1998; G. Stuart 1989;
Thompson 1937). In cases of a numbered tun and katun Ahaw placement, only the Long Count cor-
responding to the tun-ending itself is given, correlated with the circa one year range in Christian years:

Structure Long Count and Calendar Round Julian Christian Date

Water Trough Lintel *10.00.00.00.00, (katun) 7 Ahaw A.D. 810-830


Hieroglyphic Jambs *10.00.02.07.13, 9 Ben 1 Sak July 31, A.D. 832

Great Ballcourt *10.01.15.03.06, 11 Kimi 14 Pax November 13, A.D. 864


Water Trough Lintel *10.01.17?.00.00 (17?th tun of 3 Ahaw) A.D. 865-866
Casa Colorada *10.02.00.01.09, 6 Muluk 12 Mak September 11, A.D. 869
Casa Colorada *10.02.00.15.03, 7 Akbal 1 Chen June 12, A.D. 870
Halakal *10.02.01.00.00 (1st tun of 1 Ahaw) A.D. 869-870
Akab Dzib *10.02.01.00.00 (1st tun of 1 Ahaw) A.D. 869-870
Yul (L. 2) *10.02.04.02.01, 2 Imix 4 Mak September 2, A.D. 873
Yul (L. 1) *10.02.04.08.04, 08 Kan 2 Pop January 3, A.D. 874
Yul (L. 2) *10.02.04.08.12, 3 Eb 10 Pop January 11, A.D. 874

Initial Series (Unders.) 10.02.09.01.09, 9 Muluk 7 Sak July 26, A.D. 878

Initial Series (Front) *10.02.10.00.00 (10th tun of 1 Ahaw) A.D. 878-879


Three Lintels (L. 3) *10.02.10.00.00 (10th tun of 1 Ahaw) A.D. 878-879
Las Monjas (L. 2-6) *10.02.10.11.17, 8 Manik 15 Wo February 14, A.D. 880
Akab Dzib *10.02.11.00.00 (11th tun of 1 Ahaw) A.D. 879-880
Four Lintels (L. 1, 3-4) *10.02.12.01.08, 9 Lamat 11 Yax July 9, A.D. 881
Four Lintels (L. 2) *10.02.12.02.04, 12 Kan 7 Sak July 25, A.D. 881
*10.02.13.00.00 (13th tun of 1 Ahaw) A.D. 881-882
Caracol (Stela 1) *10.02.16.00.00 (16th tun of 1 Ahaw) A.D. 884-885
Caracol (Stela 1) *10.02.17.00.00 (17th tun [of 1 Ahaw]) A.D. 885-886
Caracol (Stela 1) *10.03.01.00.00 (1st tun of 12 Ahaw) A.D. 889-890
Casa Colorada (Stela 2) *10.03.01.00.00 (1st tun of 12 Ahaw) A.D. 889-890

High Priests Grave *10.08.10.06.04, 10 Kan 2 Sotz February 1, A.D. 998


High Priests Grave *10.08.10.11.00, 2 Ahaw 18 Mol May 8, A.D. 998

The earliest date at Chichn Itz can be found at the Temple of the Hieroglyphic Jambs (A.D. 832, cf.
Graa-Behrens 2002: 363; Grube, Lacadena, and Martin 2003: II-31; Kelley 1982: 12; Krochock 1998),

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 127

while the latest date can be found at the High Priests Grave (A.D. 998, cf. Graa-Behrens 2002: 383;
Graa-Behrens, Prager, and Wagner 1999; Thompson 1937). This range of dates provides Chichn Itz
with an epigraphic record covering over 160 years. Possibly there are three retrospective dates to be found
at Chichn Itz, two of which have been included in the list. First, the date as recorded on the Caracol
Tenoned Disk of the second tun of (katun) 8 Ahaw, or circa A.D. 673-674, as proposed above. Second,
the incomplete date on the Water Trough Lintel (a.k.a. Hacienda Lintel) recorded as on the 13th of
Sotz in (katun) 7 Ahaw, probably a date in katun 7 Ahaw between *9.19.0.0.1 (9 Ahaw) to *10.0.0.0.0
(7 Ahaw), or circa A.D. 810-830. Third, the recording of *13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw *8 Kumkuh, or circa
3114 B.C. in the side text of the Caracol Stela, which is connected to the 17th Tun in (katun) 1 Ahaw
(A.D. 885-886) (see Chapter 4). The rst contemporary date at Chichn Itz of A.D. 832 is relatively
close to the dated monument at Dzibilchaltn and removed by some 40 to 80 years from the above pro-
posed assembly and founding ceremonies as contained in the Chumayel. Most dates are between A.D.
869-890, which may be indicative of Chichn Itzs main period of orescence and major construction
activities as well as its position as a regional power (see Chapter 4 and 5). It should be noted that there
is a relatively large gap of more than a century between most of the dates and the nal two dates from
the High Priests Grave. There might be hieroglyphic texts that could ll this temporal gap, but those
calendrical statements and subsequent chronological placements are less secure (cf. Garca Campillo
1995, 2000 & Graa-Behrens 2002 for some of those possibilities). Most buildings at Chichn Itz that
contain hieroglyphic inscriptions are built in a style referred to as (Late or Classic) Puuc, an architectural
style that developed in the area of the Puuc Hills in the northwestern region of the Yucatn peninsula (e.g.
Andrews 1986, 1995; Pollock 1980). Chichn Itz is one of the most eastern sites that has (Late or Clas-
sic) Puuc architecture (cf. Andrews 1986, 1995; Pia Chan 1980). The use of this particular architectural
style also makes Chichn Itz contemporary with most of the Puuc sites, like important sites as Kabh
(last recorded date: A.D. 883), Labn (last recorded date: A.D. 861-862), Oxkintok (last recorded date:
A.D. 889), Santa Rosa Xtampak (last recorded date: A.D. 871), and Uxmal (last recorded date: A.D.
889-909) (last recorded dates after Schele and Grube 1995; compare to Graa-Behrens 2002: 438-39,
441, 443- 45, who has calculated several later dates for these sites). More importantly, it identies Chi-
chn Itz as a site that denitely belongs to the Late Classic period.

In past research it has been proposed that there was a clear dichotomy between buildings that were seen
as belonging to a Maya tradition and buildings belonging to a Toltec or Mexicanized tradition
(cf. Thompson 1954, 1966, 1970; Tozzer 1957; see section 2.1 of this chapter). Most Maya buildings
would be found south of the Great Plaza at Chichn Itz, while the Toltec buildings would be found
on the Great Plaza. The recognition that certain Toltec images contained Maya hieroglyphic texts
(cf. Proskouriako 1970) as well as the original (partial) overlap in ceramic complexes as suggested by
Lincoln (1986; compare to Lincoln 1987: 10-11) led Schele and Freidel to the following conclusion:

This revised version of Chichn Itz as a single, unied culture is based upon the realization that the pottery
style of the Toltec city was at least partly contemporary with the pottery style of the Puuc and Maya Chi-
chn. It is also based upon recognition that the settlement organization of the city is unitary: A network of
stone roads links principal groups into a whole. Finally, although the artistic style of the Toltec part of the city
is distinctive, this style also utilizes Maya hieroglyphic texts. The royal patrons of this Toltec complex in the
northern section of Chichn Itz may have favored murals and sculpture over texts, but they were not illiterate
foreigners. They were true Maya citizens (Schele and Freidel 1990: 355).

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128 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Eight years later, based on their new ceramic chronology for Chichn Itz the authors Ringle, Gallareta
Negrn, and Bey wrote:

Chichen clearly was not abandoned during the Hocaba phase, because postconstruction debris is often sub-
stantial, yet, just as clearly, it was a city past its prime - with little in the way of new construction and the
cessation of hieroglyphic inscriptions. In this sense, we can say that there was virtually complete overlap of
construction activity at Chichen with the Florescent (Puuc) architectural style of northern Yucatan (Ringle,
Gallareta Negrn, and Bey 1998: 190).

Past research had found an explanation for the so-called Non-Maya architecture and iconography gen-
erally encountered in the buildings of the Great Plaza. This architecture and iconography was derived
from a Toltec or Mexicanized elite. This particular scenario was rst suggested by Charnay, who
identied Tula as the origin of Chichns architecture and iconography, as cited in the rst chapter of
this dissertation. Two other scenarios suggested by Thompson and Tozzer have been summarized at the
beginning of this chapter. However, in those two scenarios the chronology was dierent and close to what
Smith presented in 1971. Based on the above new chronology and the recognition that Chichn Itz is a
unied site it can be concluded

[...] that Chichen Itza was earlier than its central Mexican counterpart at Tula, Hidalgo, the Toltec phase of
which archaeologists date to A.D. 950-1150. If these chronologies hold, it means that the scenario of the Toltec
conquest of Chichen is highly unlikely because there is so little overlap in time between the two sites (Schele
and Mathews 1998: 200).

This recent shift in the appreciation of Chichn Itz as a unied site means that particular ethnohis-
torical references need to be reinterpreted. This is especially true in regard to the so-called arrival of
Kukulkn, the subject of Chapter 3, as well as architecture and iconography associated with the Feath-
ered Serpent.
In sum, construction at Chichn Itz primarily is associated with the Sotut ceramic phase now
dated to circa A.D. 700-1000. This Sotut ceramic phase is correlated with hieroglyphic inscriptions
with a range of dates of circa A.D. 832-998 and radiocarbon dates with a range of circa A.D. 663-891
(mid-points). The particular period covered by the inscriptions includes a shorter period of circa A.D.
869-890 in which a majority of inscriptions was produced. This particular period in which the majority
of inscriptions was produced may also be indicative of a period of major construction activities. This does
not only apply to the buildings that contain those inscriptions, but also to those buildings with similar ar-
chitectural styles and iconography. If correctly deduced, major construction activities at Chichn Itz are
clearly contemporary with construction activities at sites as Seibal (last recorded date: A.D. 889), Ucanal
(last recorded date: A.D. 849), and Xultn (last recorded date: A.D. 889). It were these particular sites in
the Southern Maya Lowlands that played an important role in the reconstruction of a Classic Maya Itz
region as well as the development of a specic iconographic tradition.

The Dating of the Iconographic Style at Chichn Itz

The inscription of the Tenoned Disk, as analyzed above, may contain a retrospective calendrical statement
pertaining to the second measured tun of a katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 637-674, but there is no direct

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 129

indication when this particular stone object was produced. The iconographic style employed in the two
registers on the front plane of the tenoned disk has generally been referred to as Toltec, an identica-
tion that is no longer tenable. Before we continue on glyphic references to itza and chanek/kanek, rst
the temporal depth of this particular iconographic style at Chichn Itz will be analyzed to provide a
provisional date for the making of the Tenoned Disk.

Two important monuments at Chichn Itz contain calendrical statements combined with scenes carved
in the same iconographic style. These monuments are the Hemispherical Stone at the Great Ballcourt
and Pillar 4 at the High Priests Grave. The Hemispherical Stone (Figure 2.40) consists of a round upper
surface on which an elaborate scene is carved. Around the periphery of the scene a hieroglyphic text is
carved. The central scene consists of three gural panels, which since its rst description are referred to
as Area 1, 2, and 3 (cf. Wren 1989; Wren, Schmidt, and Krochock 1989). Area 3 (on top of the sphere)
depicts at least three warriors (note javelins and spearthrowers), of which the two warriors on the left are
associated with ascending serpents. The gure on the far right is standing, while the gure before him is
severely eroded, but possibly was depicted in a seating position and contained in some kind of rectangular
cartouche with rounded corners. Also a reclining gure can be found depicted, set on a dierent ground
line. Although less well-preserved, it seems that this reclining gure only wears a minimum of clothing

Figure 2.40 Chichn Itz, Great Ballcourt, Hemispherical Stone: Circular Text and In-the-Round Top
Image (drawings by Ruth Krochock [Wren, Schmidt, and Krochock 1989: Figs. 1 & 2])

in comparison to three of the four other gures. Area 1 contains a ballgame scene. Two teams of three
players each are centered around a large ball on which a skull is depicted. Typical ballplayer equipment is
associated with each ballplayer. Note for instance the protective yoke around each waist and the padding
on knees and lower arms. The player directly to the left of the ball holds the severed head of the player on
the right of the ball in his hand. The decapitated player is standing and from his neck emerge six serpents.
This scene is reminiscent of all six ballplayer panels that can be found incorporated in the benches of the
playing alley of the Great Ballcourt (Figure 2.41). In those scenes the decapitated player is kneeling, while
from his neck emerge six serpents and a blossoming vine (cf. Boot 2003e; Schele and Mathews 1998).

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130 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

The middle part of Area 3 is completely eroded, but the four gures that remain can easily be identied
as ballplayers. As such a comparable ballgame scene as in Area 1 may have been depicted.
The Calendar Round date on the Hemispherical Stone is recorded at positions [A-B]. It is 11 Kimi 14
Pax, which tentatively has been placed at *10.1.15.3.6, 11 Kimi 14 Pax (A.D. 864) (cf. Wren, Schmidt,
and Krochock 1989), a date also favored by other epigraphers (e.g. Boot 1999f: 37; Grube 1994: Ap-
pendix A; Schele and Grube 1995: 191; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 415; Schele and Mathews 1998:
366; Wagner 1995: 12). Recently, alternative placements of *10.4.7.16.6, 11 Kimi 14 Pax (A.D. 916)
and *10.7.0.11.6, 11 Kimi 14 Pax (A.D. 968) have been suggested (Garca Campillo 2000: 20). Thus the
reconstruction of the Calendar Round date has not been questioned, but its actual placement at a Long
Count position. Also recently, the inscription of the Hemispherical Stone has been reinvestigated and
possibly at position [L] the recording of (katun) 3 Ahaw can be identied (cf. Kremer and Vo 1998).

Figure 2.41 Chichn Itz, Great Ballcourt, Playing Alley, Central Panel East (drawing by John Montgomery)

If correct, only the original placement at *10.1.15.3.6, 11 Kimi 14 Pax in A.D. 864 is possible, as this
date falls in a katun ending on *10.2.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw (A.D. 869) (compare to Graa-Behrens 2002: 382
& Grube, Lacadena, and Martin 2003: II-39). If this reconstructed date is indeed correct, the particular
iconographic style of this monument can be associated with a date of A.D. 864. It should be noted that at
position [X] a glyph occurs that represents a ballcourt. This may indicate that both text and iconography
have a similar subject and thus pertain to contemporary events.

The other dated monument executed in the same iconographic style is Pillar 4 at the High Priests Grave
(Figure 2.42). The pillar contains three registers. The upper register depicts the partially surviving image
of a small gure who raises his hands to hold up the sky (a common feature at Chichn Itz on pillars and
jambs). The central register depicts a male gure from the side. Most of his headdress is eroded, but his
ear are and nose ornament are still visible. His costume identies him as a high ranking court ocial.
His hands are bound together and placed before his chest, probably indicative of his status as prisoner of
war. Around his waist he wears a simple belt consisting of square elements. His waist is covered by a short
skirt falling from below the belt. He also wears a plain apron on the front, while at the back of the belt an
ornament apparently made of feathers falls to the ground like a tail. His feet are covered by simple foot
wear and point to one direction.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 131

The inscription opens at [A1-B1] with a Calendar Round date of


2 Ahaw 18 Mol. In 1937 it was Thompson who suggested a date of
*10.8.10.11.0, 2 Ahaw 18 Mol (A.D. 998), but in 1990 Schele and
Freidel suggested a placement *10.0.12.8.0, 2 Ahaw 18 Mol (A.D. 842)
or *10.3.5.3.0, 2 Ahaw 18 Mol (A.D. 894) (Schele and Freidel 1990:
500). More recent research on the inscription and particularly the dates
recorded in this text (A1-B1 and F2-F6) suggests that the original place-
ment of *10.8.10.11.0, 2 Ahaw 18 Mol (A.D. 998) is indeed correct.
The opening date is followed at [C1-D1] by u-bah ahaw (it is) the
image of a lord or king, which probably refers to the male gure as
depicted. This male gure can thus be identied as an ahaw lord, king
of some importance taken captive in some battle and depicted on this
pillar. At [E1-F1] follows tza[pa]-ha TUN-ni for tzap-ah tun planted
was (the) stone, a reference to the erection or planting of this stone
pillar. A second date is recorded at [F2-F6] as the Calendar Round
date 10 Kan 2 Sotz, a date within the 11th tun of katun 2 Ahaw, or
*10.8.10.6.4, 10 Kan 2 Sotz (A.D. 998). This second date is some short
time before the opening date (cf. Graa-Behrens 2002; Graa-Behrens,
Prager, and Wagner 1999). If these reconstructed dates are correct, the
particular iconographic style is also associated with two dates in A.D.
998. The Hemispherical Stone of A.D. 864 thus predates Pillar 4 by
some 130 years and both dates seem to be contemporary with the im-
ages depicted, as indicated by the contents of the hieroglyphic texts. The
particular iconographic style was thus in use at least between A.D. 864
(Hemispherical Stone) and A.D. 998 (Pillar 4). While the iconography
at Chichn Itz is extensive and complex, one of its hallmarks is the de-
piction of any individual from the side. If these two dated monuments
are indicative for the use of this specic iconographic trait, it should
be noted that on Seibal Stela 1 the ruler entitled Ah Balun Habtal is
depicted from the side. This stela was the rst stela in the Late Classic to
depict a striding ruler from the side. This stela is dated to *10.2.0.0.0,
3 Ahaw 3 Keh, or A.D. 869, and is thus contemporary with Chichn
Figure 2.42 Chichn Itz, Itz (also note Seibal Stela 4, which does not carry a date).
High Priests Grave, Pillar 4 An important monument for the dating of the iconographic style
(drawing by Peter Mathews) at Chichn Itz is the Halakal Lintel (Figure 2.43), a lintel found at
the site of Halakal, a site located less than 5 kilometers northeast of
Chichn Itz. The Halakal Lintel contains three dates, all within a katun 1 Ahaw (two in the text on
the underside and one, illegible, in the partially surviving text on the front). The text on the underside
provides two dates (A1, G1) in the rst measured tun of katun 1 Ahaw or A.D. 869-870. In the text
the nominal phrase of Hun Yahawal Winik can be found (see below) as well as the nominal phrase of a
ruler of the site of Ek Balam, as his title ends in kuhul talo ahaw, the Emblem Glyph for Ek Balam,
a site some 40 km. northeast of Chichn Itz (cf. Vargas de la Pea and Castillo Borges 1999; Vargas de
la Pea, Castillo Borges, and Lacadena Garca-Gallo 1998, 2000; Vo and Eberl 1999) (see Chapter 4
& 5). More importantly is the image on the underside of the lintel. The image provides the depiction
of three male individuals each elaborately dressed and each originally identied by short, now eroded,

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132 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

hieroglyphic captions. The central gure seems to be the most important one. He is clearly depicted in
Late Classic Maya style. His feet are pointing outwards, he has a complex waist belt, from below which
falls a short skirt with serrated borders. A tripartite apron falls down from a central element of his waist
belt. The belt itself contains three circular elements that contain abstract faces, a typical Late Classic Maya
feature. His body is clearly much less broader than his waist belt, a feature which particularly developed
at Machaquil (see above). That style was later adopted at sites like Panhale, Seibal, Ucanal, and Xultn.
It is in this lintel at Halakal that we may see the adoption of this particular Late Classic iconographic
style in the Chichn Itz region. The central gure wears a wide collar on his shoulders, his hair is long,
and he has an elaborate headdress containing the large image of a Chak character that is topped by a tu

Figure 2.43 Halakal, Lintel (drawing by Alexander Vo)

of feathers. His left arm is depicted hanging straight down to his body, attached to which seems to be a
long shield depicted from the side. In his right hand he holds a typical Classic Maya int topped lance or
sta. The body of the lance consists of ve diamond shaped elements. Similar lances with these diamond
shaped elements (and additional so-called bow-ties) for instance can be found on Itsimte-Sacluc Stela 1,
Ixtutz Stela 1, Polol Stela 2, Tamarindito Stela 3, Bonampak Stela 1, the Rietberg Stela, a panel formerly
in the Erwin Merrin Gallery in New York (cf. Mayer 1980a: 74 & Plate 80; Mayer 1991: 95 & Plate
18), an Ex-Palmer Collection Lintel (Mayer 1995: Plate 263), Dos Pilas Stela 11 (attached to shield),
Naranjo Stela 8 and Stela 38 (with shells instead of bow-ties) (see Chapter 3, note 26). I am currently
familiar with only one other example of this kind of lance or sta at Ek Balam (on a sculptured column
from Structure 1, cf. Vargas de la Pea and Castillo Borges 1999: 30). A similar lance occurs in the lower
register at the Lower Temple of the Jaguar at the Great Ballcourt, possibly suggesting further contempo-
raneity and unity of the iconography at Chichn Itz. On the Halakal Lintel the gure on the right of

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 133

the central gure is depicted from the side, much in the same manner as on Ucanal Stela 4. The gures
on the left and right of the central gure wear extensive facial masks (interestingly, these masks are quite
similar to the mosaic Water Lily Serpent mask as worn by Itzamnah Kawil on Dos Pilas Stela 15, date to
A.D. 711), they hold lances or stas in their hands as well as shields (note the shield in the lower left, with
the variant depiction of the Bearded Jaguar God). All three gures seem to have an elaborate back-rack
adorned with a multitude of feathers. All three, based on their costume, can be identied as warriors.
At the Temple of the Four Lintels at Chichn Itz and Structure 1 at Yul an extremely important
emblem of the local iconography can be found. The central panel on the front of Lintel 1 at the Temple
of the Four Lintels and the central panel on the front of Lintel 1 at Structure 1 at Yul depict an entity
generally nicknamed the Knife Wing Bird (cf. Kelley 1964, 1982; Kowalski 1989; Krochock 1988)
(Figure 2.44a-b). It was Kowalski who rst noted in 1989 that this Knife Wing Bird had a precedent

Figure 2.44 Examples of Knife-Wing Bird Iconography at Chichn Itz, Yul, and Seibal: a) Yul (drawing
by Ruth Krochock, b) Chichn Itz (drawing by Ruth Krochock), c) Chichn Itz (drawing by Bruce Love), d)
Seibal (drawing by James B. Porter)

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134 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Figure 2.45 The Epithet Hun


Yahawal Winik: Las Monjas and
Halakal (drawings by Ian Graham
and Eric Von Euw; arrangement
by the author)

at Seibal, namely in the depiction of a similar avian creature as contained in the headdress of the male
gure on Stela 1 (Kowalski 1989: 187, Figure 3) (Figure 2.44c). Indeed, the bird in these three gures is
long-necked and has a kin sign with a tri-pointed int for a wing. At Chichn Itz and Yul, however, a
human head emerges from the beak of the long-necked bird. As such it more resembles the long-necked
bird as depicted in upper register of Chichn Itz Stela 2, found near to the Casa Colorada and recently
published (Schmidt 1999: 37) (Figure 2.44d). Here the bird clearly has a kin sign with tri-pointed int
as a wing, while on the other wing a moon sign (although quite eroded) is depicted, just as at the Temple
of the Four Lintels and Structure 1 at Yul. Seibal Stela 1 is dated to *10.2.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw 3 Keh, or A.D
869, while Lintel 1 at Structure 1 in Yul is dated to *10.2.4.8.4, 8 Kan 2 Pop, or A.D. 873, and Lintel
1 at the Temple of the Four Lintels is dated to *10.2.12.1.8, 9 Lamat 11 Yax, or A.D. 881. Chichn Itz
Stela 2 contains a date that records the rst tun of a katun ending on 12 Ahaw (*10.3.0.0.0, 12 Ahaw), or
A.D. 889-890. The temporal closeness of these four monuments is intriguing and may further substanti-
ate the contemporaneity and unity of the iconographic style at Chichn Itz.
The dating of this iconographic style or tradition is of great importance to further provide evidence that
Chichn Itz is indeed a unied site with a unied material culture and with a consistent iconographic
tradition. Therefore an additional, albeit a more circumstantial, line of evidence to date this iconographic
style at Chichn Itz is presented here. At Las Monjas there are four lintels (Lintels 2-6) that open with
a Calendar Round date of 8 Manik 15 Wo, a date that according to Lintels 2, 5 and 6 falls within the
eleventh tun of a katun ending on 1 Ahaw, or *10.2.10.11.17, 8 Manik 15 Wo (A.D. 880), in a katun
ending on *10.3.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw (A.D. 889). The inscription on the underside of Las Monjas Lintel 7 at
positions C2-E1 records a text that is largely parallel to the opening phrase of the Halakal Lintel at posi-
tions [A1-A6] (Figure 2.45a-b). The Halakal Lintel opens at [A1-A2] with a calendrical placement that
only states that it is the rst measured tun in a katun ending on 1 Ahaw, or a date between *10.2.0.0.1
and *10.2.1.0.0 (A.D. 869-870). The katun 1 Ahaw ending is recorded in the Las Monjas Lintel 7 in-
scription at [D2], after which the two texts run parallel with a largely eroded or unknown verbal expres-
sion followed by a nominal phrase spelled as u-cho?-ko for uchok (or *uchoko[w]) on the Halakal Lintel

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 135

Figure 2.46
Chichn Itz,
Structure 6E-1,
North Column
(Rollout Design)
(drawing by Linda
Schele [Schele and
Freidel 1990: Fig.
9:13])

[A5] and u-CHOK?-wa for uchokow on Las Monjas Lintel 7 [D3]. However, the Halakal Lintel text
provides an additional epithet that spells HUN ya-ha-wa-la WINIK-ki for hun yahawal winik First or
Unique (hun) Great (yahawal) Man (winik) (cf. Boot 1994a, 1996a). On the Las Monjas Lintel at [C4]
follows a collocation spelling u-ma-ma for u-mam (he is) the maternal grandfather of ... (cf. Boot
1993a, 1993b, 1996a), followed at [D4-E1] by ta ka-ku-pa-ka-la ka-wi-la for ta kakupakal kawil.
Kakupakal is the most mentioned historical individual in the inscriptions at Chichn Itz (see Chapter
4). Here ta seems to operate as a preposition and it may here serve to introduce the person to whom
the mam maternal grandfather belongs (Hoing and Tesucn, personal communication, March 1993
[XVIIth TMM, Austin]). Thus ... u-chok-ow u-mam ta kakupakal kawil may translate ... Uchokow, (he
is) the maternal grandfather of Kakupakal Kawil. At Chichn Itz the nominal phrase Kakupakal is
associated with dates between A.D. 869-870 (Halakal Lintel) and A.D. 889-890 (Chichn Itz Stela 2)
(see Chapter 4). If Uchokow is indeed Kakupakals maternal grandfather, this individual may have lived
some 40 to 50 years earlier, the period of time covered by two generations previous to Kakupakal (on
average 20 to 25 years per generation). It is pertinent to note that no birth or death dates are recorded at
Chichn Itz. Interestingly, the title Hun Yahawal Winik occurs as a name caption on the north column
of Structure 6E-1 (Figure 2.46). This column depicts four individuals in typical Chichn Itz style, each
depicted from the side and each identied by an individual name caption. Structure 6E-1 stands on a
platform on which also Structure 6E-3 is built. At present this structure, also known as Temple of the
Hieroglyphic Jambs, provides the earliest epigraphic date of *10.0.2.7.13, 9 Ben 1 Sak (A.D. 832),
in a katun ending on *10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw (A.D. 849). If both structures are contemporary, the north
column and its name captions, among them Hun Yahawal Winik (possibly the maternal grandfather of
Kakupakal), may thus refer to individuals living at circa A.D. 830-849 (the period covered by katun
5 Ahaw). This period is clearly the time span of two generations prior to most of the dates associated with
Kakupakal. If my analysis is correct, these dates would thus relate the Chichn iconographic style to a
more extended period of circa A.D. 830-849 to A.D. 998. As the Caracol Tenoned Disk is executed in

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136 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

the same iconographic style, this would mean that it was produced in the same period. The reconstructed
date of A.D. 673-674 recorded in its hieroglyphic text would indeed be retrospective.

In sum, dates recorded in the inscriptions at Chichn Itz cover a period of circa A.D. 830 to circa A.D.
1000. There may be two retrospective dates for the period A.D. 673-674 (Caracol Tenoned Disk) and a
date in a katun 7 Ahaw at A.D. 810-830 (Water Through Lintel). These inscriptions are found in or are
closely associated with buildings that contain the so-called Toltec iconography. Through an in-depth
analysis of some of the most important examples it has been shown that this iconographic style is contem-
porary with the period currently covered by the inscriptions. It therefore can be concluded that the rise
and period of orescence (circa A.D. 800-1050) of Chichn Itz largely predates the rise and orescence
of Tula, Hidalgo, which is currently placed between circa A.D. 950-1200 (or circa A.D. 900-1150). The
same analysis of the Chichn Itz iconographic tradition also shows particular but clear relationships with
an iconographic tradition that developed in the Southern Maya Lowlands, that is, at Machaquil and
Seibal. This style apparently developed even further at Chichn Itz. This may provide an indication that
there was a continued relationship between the area from which the Itz migrated and their new northern
capital at Chichn Itz.

The Collocations Itza and Kanek at Chichn Itz

Not only do ethnohistorical sources refer to the Itz as the inhabitants of Chichn Itz, more importantly,
several inscribed monuments at Chichn Itz contain references to itza and chanek/kanek. These refer-
ences can be found in the inscriptions at the Caracol, the Casa de las Monjas, and the Great Ballcourt.
Additionally the text of the underside of the Akab Dzib Lintel will be analyzed for another important
collocation.
At the Caracol building, south of the Great Plaza, two references can be found for itza. The rst refer-
ence was identied in the inscription placed on the circumference of the Tenoned Disk already discussed
above. The title of origin itza ahaw is found at position [U1], written in the form [i?]tza-AHAW. A
transcription hi-tza-AHAW (cf. Martin and Grube 2000; based on Vo 1999 [cf. also Vo 2001]) has
been suggested recently, but I consider the putative hi sign to be an integral part of the tza syllabic sign.
Also another inscription at the Caracol contains a reference to itza. It can be found on the Caracol Stela
(or Chichn Itz Stela 1), a monument from the same cache as the Tenoned Disk. The inscription on the
front of the Caracol Stela is the longest surviving text at Chichn Itz. It originally consisted of 84 glyph
blocks of which about 60 have survived breakage and erosion. The text opens at A1-B1 with a date re-
corded as 16th tun in (katun) 1 Ahaw (circa A.D. 885-886) and ends at N5-M6a with a date recorded
as 1st measured tun of (katun) 12 Ahaw (circa A.D. 889-890). At N1-N4 a long nominal phrase can
be identied, beginning at [N1-M2a] a-NINE-KAWIL-la-li? for ah balun kawilil He/Person from
Balun Kawilil [M2b-N2] ta-a-[i?]tza-a for ta itza at or in Itz [M3a] yo-lo for yol the head of ...,
with at [M3b] a collocation for a deictic or focus marker. This kind of deictic introduces an important
part of the nominal phrase (cf. Garca Campillo 2000). In this case it introduces the phrase at [N3-M4]
a-ka-na-tzi-ki-NAL for ah kan tziknal He/Person from Kan Tziknal [N4] a-SIX-HAB?-NAL-la
for ah wak habnal He/Person from Wak Habnal. Ah Balun Kawilil Ta Itz is a nominal phrase that
identies a double toponym, namely Balun Kawilil (note -il sux to derive a toponym, thus Place
of Balun Kawil) and Ta Itz. Balun Kawilil may be a toponym that forms part (ta at or in) of
a territory named Itz (itza). The general or male agentive prex ah simply opens the title of origin as

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 137

he/person from/of ... Balun Kawilil Ta Itz. Then y-ol follows, apparently serving as a relationship
statement. This y-ol may be reconstructed as *u-hol (a soft aspiration /h/ falls away when a possessive pro-
noun u is prexed). Hol, among other denitions, means cabeza; cumbre o altura (cf. Barrera Vsquez
et al. 1980: 225) and here it may be a kind of title. Note for instance the titles holkan guerrero, valiente
caballero and holpop prncipe del convite; el casero dueo de la casa llamada popol na (Barrera Vsquez
et al. 1980: 226, 228). Both titles open with hol head; the title holkan may literally mean head (hol)
serpent (kan), while holpop may literally mean head (hol) of the mat (pop). The phrase y-ol may thus
mean the head of ... and like the y-ahaw relationship statement may introduce the higher ranked of
the two. The nominal that follows y-ol is introduced by a deictic or demonstrative indicative of the im-
portance of the information that follows. The nominal phrase reads Ah Kan Tziknal Ah Wak Habnal,
which contains two titles of origins for He/Person of Kan Tziknal, He of Wak Habnal. Recently it has
been suggested that Tziknal was one of the possible proper names of the Caracol building (cf. Vo 2000;
the other proper name being Tzitznal, personal communication, December 2000 [5th EMC, Bonn]),
an identication that deserves more research. Wak Habnal has been identied as one of the variant
names to which Chichn Itz is referred to in the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel (Gordon 1913:
MS 2, line 5 uac hab nal) (cf. Boot 1994b, 1996a, 1999e; Garca Campillo 1995, 2000). The other
name is Wuk Yabnal (Chumayel, Gordon 1913: MS 73, line 7 vuc yab nal) (Roys 1933: 65 & note
4). Tentatively Wak Habnal can be identied as the toponym for what archaeologists and historians now
would refer to as Old Chichn, in which buildings as the Casa Colorada, the Caracol and the Monjas
are situated. Additionally, Wuk Yabnal may than be identied as the name of New Chichn, the large
plaza and its associated buildings as the Great Ballcourt, the Castillo, as well as the Cenote of Sacrice (see
Chapter 4). These shift of numerals in toponyms also occur at other sites: ox- or huxhixal(?) to kanhixal(?)
(Xcalumkin), huxwitik to kanwitik (Copn), and ho kab to wak kab (Naranjo). These particular shifts
occur late in the history of these sites and seem to coincide with the latest construction phases (with the
latest construction phase spatially removed from the older occupation). In sum, the phrase recorded at
[N1-N4] may thus introduce a certain Ah Balun Kawilil Ta Itza who may be the head ... belonging to
a certain Ah Tziknal Ah Wak Habnal, a person of some importance as he carries titles probably revealing
his association with a specic building (the Caracol) and the site of Chichn Itz. In this inscription from
the Caracol the reference to itza is dated between A.D. 885-886 and A.D. 889-890. If this identica-
tion is correct, it would mean that at Chichn Itz there were people living who referred to themselves
as itza, in the sense that some area where they lived or came from was named itza (ta itza at Itz ).
If my suggestion is correct, this would mean that the area in which Chichn Itz was located was once
named itza, just as the putative homeland in the Southern Maya Lowlands. It should be noted here that
both the Caracol Stela and the Tenoned Disk were found in the same cache, suggestive of some kind of
contemporaneity. The last date on the Caracol Stela is recorded at positions [N5-M6a] ONE-pi-si-TUN-
ni TWELVE-AHAW-wa or hun-pis tun, lahka ahaw (it is the) rst measured tun of (katun) 12 Ahaw,
circa A.D. 889-890. This might mean, if contemporaneity is applicable, that the Tenoned Disk was made
at a date close to the date on the stela. If correct, this further reinforces the fact that the iconographic style
employed at Chichn Itz clearly belongs to a period of circa A.D. 830-1000.

At the Great Ballcourt the rst example can be found for the name or hereditary title chanek/kanek. The
Great Ballcourt is one of the most prominent buildings on the Great Plaza. The surface covered by this
ballcourt measures some 70 by 150 meters, making it the largest ballcourt in all of Mesoamerica. The
iconographic programs at the dierent buildings incorporate name captions to identify certain individu-
als. The precise construction date of the Great Ballcourt is unknown, but the text on the Hemispherical

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138 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Stone provided a date of A.D. 864 and a glyph for a ballcourt. Two scenes on the Hemispherical Stone
depicted scenes from the ballgame. The contents of the ballgame scenes on the Hemispherical Stone are
particularly similar to the carved panels of the benches along the central alley of the Great Ballcourt,
both these scenes as well as the ballcourt glyph in the accompanying text refer to this particular ballcourt
at Chichn Itz (Figure 2.47a). Two other inscriptions at
Chichn Itz refer to events associated with the ballgame
or ballcourt. On Yul Lintel 1, dated to A.D. 874, the ar-
rival at the ballcourt by Kakupakal is mentioned, record-
ed as u-li-ya BALL.COURT-la for ul--iy ballcourt or
he arrived (at the) ballcourt (Figure 2.47b). On Temple
of the Four Lintels, Lintel 1, dated to A.D. 881, an un-
known event (recorded as ya-hi-?-?) is associated with a Figure 2.47 Ballcourt Glyphs at Chichn Itz
ballcourt glyph (Figure 2.47c). There are at least thirteen (drawings by Ruth Krochock)
ballcourts at Chichn Itz (Maldonado Crdenas 1994:
52; Robertson 1991: 91), but as the Great Ballcourt is
such a prominent building on the Great Plaza, both these
inscriptions may refer to events associated with this par-
ticular ballcourt. If correct, these dates may indicate that
between at least A.D. 864-881 the Great Ballcourt was
operational. The range of dates from A.D. 864 to A.D.
881 may provide an indication for the construction as well
as the use of the Great Ballcourt (cf. Cohodas 1978 for a
dierent range of dates).
The South Building at the Great Ballcourt is a colon-
naded rectangular building, placed on a U-shaped plat-
form, that opens to the north. The single interior room
was once vaulted and it had six square sculptured columns
or pillars that dened seven doorways (cf. Boot 2003e:
102-103). The inside surface of the two end walls are cov-
ered by sculptured panels with an image related to war
(Figure 2.48a-b). On both the east and west end a reclin-
ing image of the jade-skirted Maize God can be found.
The Maize God uses one of his hands as a support in his
reclining position, while he uses the other hand to sup-
port an ascending serpent. This serpent seems to emerge
from the nose and mouth of the Maize God. Small smoke
scrolls are attached to the body of the serpent. Above the
eroded opened jaws of the ascending serpents a striding
warrior can be found depicted (note shield, javelins, and
spearthrower) (for a comparable description, see Schele
and Mathews 1998: 244). Between the two end panels
the six square columns can be found. Each column (or Figure 2.48 Chichn Itz, Great Ball-
pillar or pier) is sculptured on its four sides and the fth court, South Building, End Panels (draw-
column has survived the most complete (Figure 2.49). ing by Linda Schele [Schele and Mathews
The sculptured image on each side originally consisted of 1998: Fig. 6.42])

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 139

three registers. The top register is nearly completely eroded, but may have contained the frontal view of
a mosaic serpent head. The middle register contains the image of a striding warrior. Each warrior crosses
his left arm over his chest, with the hand reaching the right shoulder. In the other hand the warriors hold
a small bag and a curled object, an unknown ceremonial object possibly made of feathers. On the chest a
large buttery pectoral can be found. On the back of the belt a small mirror or shield can be found, while
each warrior wears a short skirt. Of two sides of the fth column the part of the register survived in which
the headdress of the warriors can be found. According to Schele and Mathews (1998: 244) they wear a
drummajor headdress with three large feathers attached. This particular drummajor headdress consists
of a mosaic of small elements and only two feathers can be found attached to the top of the headdress.
The third feather, as identied by Schele and Mathews, belongs to a feathered object in the left hand (a
similar object to the one held by each warrior in his right hand). Above each headdress oats a glyphic de-
sign identifying each individual warrior. One of the two warriors is identied by a single sign depicting a
rodent or small dog. The other warrior is identied by two signs, a rattle snake (for chan or kan serpent)
to which the sign for a star (for ek) is attached. As rst suggested by Linnea Wren (cf. Boot 1995d,
1996a), this caption may thus read Chanek or Kanek, the Itz name or hereditary title known from
the sixteenth to seventeenth century as well as from the Classic period in the Southern Maya Lowlands.
Additionally it should be noted that this particular glyphic design, a sign representing a star attached to
a full-bodied serpent, is quite close to the depiction of the full-bodied serpents with attached star signs as
depicted on Xultn Stela 24 and Ste-
la 25 (see Figure 2.5). Of particular
importance is the headdress the g-
ures wear on the pillar at the Great
Ballcourt. This headdress with two
large feathers is the same headdress
as worn by the founder-ancestor
gure (as identied above) emerg-
ing from the ascending serpent as
depicted in the upper register on the
front plane of the Caracol Tenoned
Disk (see Figure 2.35a).

The name or hereditary title Chanek/


Kanek also can be found in the in-
scriptions at the Casa de las Monjas
building. As seen above, Lintels 2-
6 at this structure contain the date
*10.2.10.11.17, 8 Manik 15 Wo
(A.D. 880), while Lintel 7 contains
a reference to a katun 1 Ahaw or
*10.1.0.0.1 to *10.2.0.0.0 (A.D.
869-889). The text on the front of
Lintel 1 contains the reference sabak
tok pakal, already cited above during
Figure 2.49 Chichn Itz, Great Ballcourt, South Building, Pillar the analysis of the migration from
5 (drawing by Linda Schele [Schele and Mathews 1998: Fig. 6.43]) Ppole and the assembly and found-

chapter-2.indd 139 20-12-2004 14:12:00


140 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

ing ceremony as described in the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel. The underside of Lintel 1 contains
a hieroglyphic text consisting of four double columns. A majority of the text is eroded, but a large part of
the text in the rst double column has survived. The text opens with a partly surviving dedication phrase,
with at [A1] a-way here (are) and at [B1] u-wohol the glyphs of ... . The collocation at [A2], probably
for kal-ah- received were (the outline for the syllables la and ha are still recognizable) should have
preceded [B1], as can be found in other examples at Chichn Itz (e.g. Las Monjas Lintel 7: A1-B1). The
collocation at [B2] would have opened a nominal phrase, which would have continued until position
[B4]. The reading order A1-A2-B1-B2 is quite dierent from other inscriptions, which normally would
have A1-B1-A2-B2 as their reading order. The outlines of the signs used are barely visible and as such no
identication is possible (note the outline for the syllable ku at [A4/B4]). At positions [A5-B5] a title
seems to be recorded. The glyphs at [A5-A6] seems to spell KAK-ka-na-la, while [B5] seems to spell
AHAW-wa for the title kaknal ahaw or Fire (kak) Place (nal) Lord (ahaw) (cf. Boot 1997b). This title
may be related to Kakupakal, as indicated in the text of Las Monjas Lintel 4. The title kaknal ahaw is
also known from the inscriptions of Uxmal (see Chapter 4). At position [B6] probably follows a rela-
tionship statement, but too little detail survives. The organization of the last four glyph blocks suggests
a slightly dierent reading order and there are peculiar changes in reading order to be noted at Chichn
Itz. For example, the front of Temple of the Three Lintels, Lintel 3 provides the order A1-B1-A2-B2-C1-
C2-D1-D2-E1-E2-F1-F2-G1-G2-H1-H2-I1-I2, while the front of the Temple of the Initial Series Lintel
provides the order A1-B1-C1-A2-B2-C2-D1-D2-E1-E2-F1-F2-G1-G2-H1-H2-I1-I2. In the text of Las
Monjas Lintel 1 the side lines of the glyphs at positions [A7-B7] seem to be superimposed, suggesting
that these two signs indeed go together, after which the eroded signs in [A8-B8] follow. If correct, the
glyphs at [A7-B7] spell SKY-na-EK for chanek or kanek (cf. Boot 1995c, 1995d, 1996a, 1997a; Schele
and Mathews 1998: 187).

The inscriptions at Chichn Itz thus provide several collocations that spell itza and chanek/kanek and
these particular inscriptions are dated to a period of circa A.D. 880-890. As all other examples of itza
and chanek/kanek antedate this specic period and can be found in the Southern Maya Lowlands, this
seems to indicate that the founders and inhabitants of Chichn Itz are migrants from the Southern Maya
Lowlands.
There is an additional inscription that may shed some more light on this question of Itz migration
between the Southern and Northern Maya Lowlands. The Akab Dzib building (Structure 4D-1) is a
multi-room structure built in Puuc style. Above the doorway of the entrance to the central room a lintel
has been placed with an extensive hieroglyphic text on both the front and the underside (Figure 2.50).
Here only the text and image on the underside of this lintel will be analyzed. The lintel text opens at
[A1] with u-ba-hi for u-bah (it is) the image of ..., after which at [A2-C1] follows a nominal phrase
and title: yahawal choh (-?-) chakol ba(h)te ahaw. The nominal phrase ends with three titles: Chakol,
Ba(h)te, and Ahaw. The text continues at [D1-D2] with u-TEN-TUN-ni ta ONE-AHAW-wa for
u-lahun-tun, ta hun ahaw (it is) the tenth tun in (katun) 1 Ahaw (A.D. 879-880). This calendrical
statement is followed by an unknown verb at [D3a] and at [D3b] yu-xu?-li-li for y-uxul-il the sculpture
of ..., followed at [D4] by ya-ha-wa-la cho?-?-? for the nominal phrase Yahawal Cho(h) (-?-). At [D5]
probably there follows another unknown verb (only -ki-ya can be transcribed with certainty), while at
[D6] one can nd u-tu-ku-la NINE-HAB-ta for u-tukul balun habta(l). The phrase u-tukul may be
translated as (it is) the mass (of things) of ... (Garca Campillo 2000: 90). More important, however,
is the recording of Balun Habtal, which here seems to be functioning as a nominal or title (the one to
whom belongs the tukul). As a title we have seen Ah Balun Habtal (spelled a-NINE-HAB-ta and a-

chapter-2.indd 140 20-12-2004 14:12:01


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 141

Figure 2.50 Chichn Itz, Akab Dzib Building, Lintel (drawing by Alexander Vo)

NINE-HAB-ta-la) recorded at Seibal, one of the sites referring to Chanek or Kanek as the kuhul ahaw
of Motul de San Jos as well as another Chanek or Kanek as a person from Ucanal. The title Ah Balun
Habtal further only occurs at Aguateca (although other numbered habtal titles are known from nearby
sites, e.g. Tikal, El Chorro). Based on the limited geographical distribution of the item (ah) balun habtal,
a further relationship may be established between Chichn Itz in the Northern Maya Lowlands and a
particular region in the Southern Maya Lowlands. At present there are no other inscriptions that record
the item balun habtal.
The lintel itself depicts a male gure, namely Yahawal Cho(h) (-?-) (cf. Chapter 4), as the text indi-
cates ([A1] u-bah [it is] the image of ...), who is seated on a large cushion or pillow serving him as a
throne (cf. Boot 2000b). His costume is quite simple, consisting of a waist belt, a collar to which a now
eroded pectoral was attached, and small bracelets on his wrists. He wears a mosaic headdress, on the back
of which large feathers are attached. In front of the cushion or pillow a large vessel, with a zoomorphic
lid (probably depicting a long-billed bird), can be found. The particular position of the seated gure
has been referred to as the posture of royal ease (cf. Schaer 1991), a seating position of Maya high

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142 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

dignitaries and rulers, which is common in Classic Maya iconography (cf. Boot 2000b). Other examples
of this particular posture of royal ease can be found at Chichn Itz (Water Trough Lintel, underside;
Lower Temple of the Jaguar, at the center of the upper register). Yahawal Cho(h) (-?-) holds an important
position at Chichn Itz, as the text on the front of the lintel at position [E1] identies him as a kuhul
kokom. In earlier research kokom was identied as the name of an important ruling lineage in Yucatn and
the putative former lords of Chichn Itz (cf. Grube and Stuart 1987; Schele and Freidel 1990). Recent
research, however, identies kokom as a specic title with the meaning of auditor (cf. Vo and Kremer
2000), an identication also followed here (see Chapter 4). This nominal phrase combined with the title
kuhul kokom god-like auditor also occur in the text of the Casa Colorada dated to circa A.D. 869-870
(also Yahawal Cho[h] [-?-]), while the title kokom nal ba(h)te can be found in the text on the underside
of the Water Trough Lintel.

Recently discovered hieroglyphic texts at Ek Balam contain references to a historical character who is
named Chak Hutuw Chanek/Kanek (Grube, Lacadena, and Martin 2003: II10-II12 & II27-II28). His
nominal is spelled CHAK-hu-tu-wi SERPENT-na-EK and CHAK hu-tu-wi SKY.BIRD-EK. This
nominal is contained in Hieroglyphic Mural A (also known as the Mural of the 96 Glyphs) in an ar-
rival event in A.D. 770. In this text Chak Hutuw Chanek/Kanek carries a kuhul [?] ahaw title and he is
additionally identied as ba(h)kab and xaman kalomte north kalomte. Hieroglyphic Mural C also refers
to an arrival event for Chak Hutuw Chanek/Kanek, but now related to a date in A.D. 814. Also in this
text he carries the title ba(h)kab.
The occurrence at Ek Balam of references to a person whose nominal contains the item Chanek/
Kanek is still enigmatic. He carries a kuhul ahaw title, but the main sign of the Emblem Glyph remains
without decipherment. The arrival of this Chanek/Kanek character seems to be important to the reign
of the Ek Balam king named Ukit Kanlek Tok, at present clearly the most important and powerful lo-
cal king (Vargas de la Pea and Castillo Borges 2001: 150). The only conclusion that at present can be
made is that the occurrence of these two references to a Chanek/Kanek person takes place prior to the
occurences of Chanek/Kanek at Chichn Itz.In sum, the inscriptions at Chichn Itz provide several
collocations that spell itza and chanek/kanek. These particular collocations may thus be indicative that
indeed the Itz were the inhabitants of the city of Chichn Itz. The city probably reached its apogee or
greatest orescence between circa A.D. 800-1050. According to the ethnohistorical sources, additional
migrations took place that eventually led to the waning of the political power of Chichn Itz in the
Northern Maya Lowlands. The occurences of Chanek/Kanek at Ek Balam deserve more research.

The Next Era of Migrations

A rst indication that also Chichn Itz suered a loss in population can be found in a short passage
outside the chronicles. In the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, according to the number of years to
be subtracted, it is written in which year that the city of Chichn Itz was abandoned:

//85// Mili quinientos quarenta y quatro aS: haab e ...


lahu cabak haab catac holhu can kal haab - paxi
cah tu chichheenytza: Paxci ti cahalob lae.
(Gordon 1913: MS 85, lines 15-17, transcription by the author)

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 143

//85// Fifteen hundred forty and four years, the year ...
ten two four hundred years and fteen four twenty years, abandoned
the settlement at the mouth of the well of Itz, abandoned were its settlements. [...]
(translation by the author)

The passage is somewhat enigmatic, as (n)o mention of the inhabitants of Chichen Itz being driven
out at this time has yet been noted (Roys 1933: 145, note 5). According to Roys, the number of years
to be subtracted is 675, which he apparently based on lahu cabak haab as 600 years plus (catac)
holhu can kal haab as 75 years. However, the correctness of the number 675 as preferred by Roys can
be doubted. For instance, Edmonson (1986: 133, line 2361) arrives at a number of 410 years plus 75
years. Mediz Bolio (1987 [1930]: 97) prefers a number of 855 years (probably 790 plus 65). Both
translators do not provide an analysis of the numbers. The number lahu cabak haab seems to contain
lahu(n) 10, ca 2, and bak 400, followed by haab year of 365 days. According to Po Prez
lahun ox bak means 1000 (cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 433). This number 1000 can only be
reached if lahun indicates that one of the three (ox 3) periods bak 400 is counted by half (thus
200+400+400=1000). This function of lahun may also apply to lahu(n) cabak haab, which would
than lead to 200+400=600. The second number holhu can kal haab consists of can kal that means
80; holhu is more dicult to identify. Roys seems to interpret this number as a variant of ho 5,
through which 75 can be explained (as less 5 to 80). I, however, interpret holhu as a corruption of
*hol(a)hu(n) which means 15 (ho 5 plus lahun 10). According to Po Prez lahun can kal means
70 (as less 10 to 80). If correct, the number hol(a)hu(n) can kal haab might be 65 years (as less
15 to 80) (as probably also calculated by Mediz Bolio), through which one arrives at the amount of 665
years. If this reconstructed number of 665 years is to be subtracted from A.D. 1544 is correct, it is
stated that in circa A.D. 879 the settlement at the mouth of the well of Itz was abandoned or depopu-
lated (thus: A.D. 1544 - 665) (this is a correction in regard to a previous study when Roys calculation
was followed, cf. Boot 1997c: 174). At that particular time, however, as we now know, the site had just
entered its period of orescence. The katun 1 Ahaw of circa A.D. 869-889 is the katun in which most in-
scriptions at Chichn Itz are dated. Additionally it can be noted that the period around A.D. 879 is the
period in which several important cities in the Southern Maya Lowlands erected their last monuments
(e.g. Tikal, Ixl, Jimbal) (Boot 1997c: 175).
In the First Chronicle in the Chumayel the following passage can be found. It follows directly after
the setting in order of the mat (tzolci pop) in a katun 13 Ahaw, as discussed earlier:

//74// XI Buluc ahau


IX Bolon ahau
VII Vuc ahau
15 V Hoo ahau
III Ox ahau
I Hun ahau.
XII Lahca ahau.
X Lahun ahau
20 Vaxac ahau paxci u chichheen ytza: vchi
oxlahun uudz katun cacahi: chakanputun ti
yotochob u katunil
-----------------------------------------------------------------

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144 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

VI Vac ahau
25 IIII Can ahau: chuc ci ulumil tumenob chakan putun
II Cabil ahau.
XIII Oxlahun ahau
XI Buluc ahau.
//75// IX Bolon ahau
VII Vuc ahau
V. Hoo ahau
III Ox ahau
05 I Hun ahau
XII Lahca ahau
X. Lahun ahau

VIII Vaxac ahau: paxci. chakan putunob tumenob ah ytza


uinicob. cataliob. u tzacle uyotochob tucaten ox
10 lahun uudz ukatunil: cahanob chakan putunob tu
yotochob lay li u katunil bin ciob ah ytzaob yalan
che yalan haban: yalan ak ti numyaob lae--------------
(Gordon 1913: MS 74, line 12 - MS 73, line 12)

//74// XI 11 Ahaw
IX 9 Ahaw
VII 7 Ahaw
15 V 5 Ahaw
III 3 Ahaw
I 1 Ahaw
XII 12 Ahaw
X 10 Ahaw
20 8 Ahaw, abandoned was the mouth of the well of Itz, it occurred
(after) thirteen folds of katuns. Then was established Chakanputn as
their home this katun.
VI 6 Ahaw
IIII 4 Ahaw, seized was the land by them, Chakanputn.
25 II 2 Ahaw
XIII 13 Ahaw
XI 11 Ahaw
//75// IX 9 Ahaw
VII 7 Ahaw
V. 5 Ahaw
III 3 Ahaw
05 I 1 Ahaw
XII 12 Ahaw
X. 10 Ahaw
VIII 8 Ahaw, abandoned it was by those of Chakanputun because of the Itz
men. Then they came, it was the going to seek their home for a second time.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 145

10 Thirteen folds of the katun resided those of Chakanputn

in their houses. This was the katun, the Itz went beneath the
trees, beneath the bushes, beneath the vines, in their misfortune
(translation by the author)

This passage contains three entries that specify events pertaining to a certain counted katun. The rst
entry is related to a katun 8 Ahaw, which follows in the normal sequence in the First Chronicle. As the
earlier katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 672-692 involved the discovery of the mouth of the well of Itz, the
consecutive katun 8 Ahaw can be placed at circa A.D. 928-948 (Boot 1997c: 176; Schele, Grube, and
Boot 1998: 416-418; Schele and Mathews 1998: 367). This katun 8 Ahaw seems to involve the aban-
donment of (paxci abandoned was ...) the mouth of the well of Itz after thirteen folds of the katun
(oxlahun uudz katun), that is after circa 256 years, a complete katun cycle.
This katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 928-948 can be considered somewhat early for the decline of the
city of Chichn Itz, now that recently more evidence has been presented in favor of a date of A.D. 998
on the pillar at the High Priests Grave. It can be contended that this abandonment may involve a
group of Itz who left Chichn Itz and migrated to a place named Chakanputn (cf. Boot 1997c: 176;
Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 416-418; Schele and Mathews 1998: 367). If correctly deduced, it would
be a parallel to the migration of certain Itz groups from the Southern Maya Lowlands to the north. As
contended earlier, some groups migrated while other groups stayed behind. The second entry refers to
the seizure of land of Chakanputn in a katun 4 Ahaw, possible indicative of the nal conquest of the
new territory (note, again, chuk lum as to conquer). This particular temporal pattern (katun 8 Ahaw
and katun 4 Ahaw) can also be discerned at Chichn Itz, in which katuns 8 Ahaw, 6 Ahaw, and 4 Ahaw
are associated with the discovery (and settlement) of the site.

According to the third entry those of Chakanputn abandoned (paxci) it (intended to refer to their
homeland) because of the Itz (tumenob ah itza uinicob) in a consecutive katun 8 Ahaw and, as this
katun follows the previous katun 8 Ahaw, which can be placed at circa A.D. 1185-1204. A most impor-
tant phrase is cataliob. u tzacle uyotochob tucaten (MS 74, line 9), which is translated here as Then
they came, it was the going to seek their home for a second time. The item u tzacle can be identied
as u tzak[a]le, in which tzak[a]l means seguir buscando o ir as en seguimiento de otro; acudir o ir
a donde est otro (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 850, as tsakal). Indeed, this passage refers literally to the
second time the Itz seek a new home (u is the third person preconsonantal possessive pronoun; -e is
a common topic marker).
Also those of Chakanputn had lived there for 13 folds of the katun, that is circa 256 years. This
particular passage does indicate that the Itz and the Putn (those who lived in Chakanputn) can not
be the same group of people as has been proclaimed in other research (cf. Thompson 1970; see section
2.1). The same events, but in a dierent wording, are also described in the Tizimn Chronicle:

//18v// oxlahun ahau - lai tzolci pop - buluc ahau - bolon ahau
vuc ahau - ho ahau - ox ahau - hun ahau - lahun kalhab
cu tepal chichhen ytza, capaxi cabinob t cah tal chakan putun
ti yanhi yotochob ah ytzaob kuyan uinicobi - vac ahau -
15 chuc culumil chakan putun - can ahau - cabil ahau - ox
lahun ahau - buluc ahau - bolon ahau - vuc ahau - ho a

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146 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

hau - ox ahau - hun ahau - lahca ahau - lahun ahau -


uaxac ahau paxci chakan putun - oxlahun kal hab cu
tepal chakan putun, tumen ytzauincob - ca talob utzac lob yo
20 tochob tu caten, ca satah hob be chakan putun - ca dzit ukatu
nil biciob Ahytzaob yalanche yalanhaban yalan ak ti
....um yaob, - vac ahau - can ahau - ca kal hab ca talob u
hedz yotochob tu caten -ca u sa ta hob be cha kan putun , - ca
bil ahau - oxlahun ahau - buluc ahau - bolon -
25 vuc ahau - ho ahau - ox ahau - hun ahau - lahca a
hau - [...]
(Mayer 1980b: fol. 23v [18v], lines 11-26)

//18v// 13 Ahaw, here was set the mat. 11 Ahaw, 9 Ahaw


7 Ahaw, 5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw, 1 Ahaw, ten score years
they ruled Chichn Itz. Then it was abandoned, then they went to settle at Chakanputn,
where their home was, of the Itz, blessed people. 6 Ahaw,
15 seized was the land of Chakanputn. 4 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw, 13
Ahaw, 11 Ahaw, 9 Ahaw, 7 Ahaw, 5
Ahaw, 3 Ahaw, 1 Ahaw, 12 Ahaw, 10 Ahaw,
8 Ahaw, abandoned was Chakanputn, thirteen score years
they ruled at Chakanputn, the Itz people. Then they came,
it was their going to seek
20 their home for a second time. Then they destroyed the road
to Chakanputn. For two
parts of the katun the Itz went beneath the trees, beneath
the bushes, beneath the
vines, in their misfortune. 6 Ahaw, 4 Ahaw, two score years
and they came,
they settled their houses for a second time. Then they destroyed
the road to Chakanputn.
2 Ahaw, 13 Ahaw, 11 Ahaw, 9
25 Ahaw, 7 Ahaw, 5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw, 1 Ahaw, 12
Ahaw, [...]
(translation by the author)

The Tizimn (MS 18v, line 12) text seems to miss the katun names for 12 Ahaw, 10 Ahaw, 8 Ahaw
to introduce this variant text on the abandonment of Chichn Itz. These three katuns can be simply
reconstructed as the text is followed by 6 Ahaw, 4 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw, ... . According to this text the Itz
ruled ten score years at Chichn Itz, that is circa 200 years (note year of 360 days vs. 365 days),
instead of circa 256 years (a full katun cycle) as described in the First Chumayel Chronicle. Note that
now a katun 6 Ahaw is associated with the seizure of the land of Chakanputn (- vac ahau -//chuc cu-
lumil chakan putun), instead of a katun 4 Ahaw as in the First Chumayel Chronicle. That this variant
text indeed refers to the same events as in the First Chumayel Chronicle can be substantiated through
the variant text for the next katun 8 Ahaw when Chakanputn is abandoned (paxci chakan putun

chapter-2.indd 146 20-12-2004 14:12:04


On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 147

abandoned was Chakanputn as well as ca sa tah hob be chakan putun then they destroyed [sat-ah-
ob] the road to Chakanputn).
Although there are some textual dierences, the texts in the First Chumayel Chronicle and the Ti-
zimn Chronicle are quite close. The Man Chronicle provides a close parallel to these two text variants as
contained in the Chumayel and the Tizimn. This variant text provides some dierent calendrical place-
ments, but in most detail it is parallel to the previous two chronicles:

//135// Buluc ahau, bolon ahau, vuc ahau, ho ahau, ox ahau


hun ahau, uac kal haab, cu tepalob chichhen itza ca paxi
chichhen itza, ca binob cahtal Chan putun ti yanhi u yo-
05 tochob ah itzaob kuyan uincob lae: lae u habil lae 120 a.s.
Uac ahau chucuc u luumil Chan putun: can ahau, ca-
bil ahau, oxlahun ahau, buluc ahau, bolon ahau, vuc ahau,
ho ahau, ox ahau, hun ahau, lahca ahau, lahun ahau, ua-
xac ahau paxci chan putun, oxlahun kal haab cu tepa-
10 lob chanputun tumenel itza uinicob cu talob u tzacle
u yotochob tu caten, laixtun u katunil binciob ah itzaob
yalan che, yalan aban, yalan ak ti numyaob lae: lai
u haabil cu ximbal lae 260 a.s.
Uac ahau, can ahau, ca kal haab ca talob u hedzob
15 u yotochob tu ca ten ca tu zatahob Chakan putun: lai u
habil lae 40 a . s
(Craine and Reindorf 1979: 135; MS 135, lines 2-16)

//135// 11 Ahaw, 9 Ahaw, 7 Ahaw, 5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw,


1 Ahaw, six scores of years they ruled at Chichn Itz, then abandoned was
Chichn Itz, then they went to settle at Cha[ka]nputn to be their
05 home, of the Itz people, blessed people those are. These are the years: 120 years.
6 Ahaw, taken was the land of Cha[ka]nputn. 4 Ahaw, 2
Ahaw, 13 Ahaw, 11 Ahaw, 9 Ahaw, 7 Ahaw,
5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw, 1 Ahaw, 12 Ahaw, 10 Ahaw,
8 Ahaw, abandoned was Cha[ka]nputn, thirteen scores of years they
10 ruled at Cha[ka]nputn, because of Itz men. They came, it was the going to seek
their home for a second time. This time was the katun the Itz went
beneath the trees, beneath the bushes, beneath the vines, in their misfortune.
The years that went by 260 years.
6 Ahaw, 4 Ahaw, two scores of years, then they came, they settled
15 their home for a second time, a second (time) they destroyed Chakanputn.
These years are 40 years.
(translation by the author)

Also here three katun periods can be reconstructed to precede the entry on the abandonment of Chichn
Itza, again katuns 12 Ahaw, 10 Ahaw, and 8 Ahaw. Most interesting is the fact that in this variant text the
Itz when they are said to settle Chakanputn they are referred to as kuyan uincob blessed people,
possibly consecrated people or even religious people (Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 417). Po Prez

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148 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

(in Stephens and Catherwood 1963 [1843]: 324) and Brinton (1882: 145) both preferred in their trans-
lation holy men. Craine and Reindorf (1979: 138) preferred a believing people, while Makemson
(1951: 68) preferred consecrated men. In Yucatec Maya kuyan is dened as consagrado; cosa dada a
Dios y consagrada o bendita. It also may be derived from the verb kuyancunah bendecir; consagrar
(Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 427, as kuyan, kuyaan, and kuyankunah). The item kuyan uincob may be
a variant of the more general kuyen uinic hombre santo o bendito (ibid, as kuyen winik). An intrigu-
ing alternative may be found in kuyan as desviado de su base, ladeado, with as its root the verb kuy
ladear (ibid, as kuy and kuyan). The meaning deviated from its base for kuyan is quite appropriate,
as the Itz have left their new home or base in Yucatn, namely Chichn Itz. It may even be the case that
both meanings blessed, consecrated and deviated t in this context, as a kind of play of words, a com-
mon feature in other parts of the Books of Chilam Balam (see for example parts named the Language of
Suyu and Birth of the Winal).
Now, where is this Chakanputn located? In previous research Chakanputn has been identied
as the homeland of the Putn (as Savannah [chakan] of the Putun [putun], Thompson 1970: 11).
Chakanputn also has been equated with Champoton on the west coast of Campeche (Ball 1986: 376;
Ball and Taschek 1989: 191, Figs. 1-2; Craine and Reindorf 1979: 138, note 252; Luxton 1995: 147,
line 3364; Roys 1933: 136, note 2; Thompson 1970: 15). This equation is based on the fact that in the
Man Chronicle four times Chan putun/chanputun is written instead of Chakan putun (Po Prez,
in Stephens and Catherwood 1963 [1843]: 324, 326; Brinton 1882: 101, 125; see Man MS 135, lines
4,5, 9 & 10). Chan putun was equated with Champoton, based on two regular phonemic changes
(nal /-n/ to /-m/ & intermediate /-u-/ to /-o-/), which eventually led to the equation of Chakan putun
with Champoton. There now rises a linguistic problem. The lexical items chakan and chan have
a completely dierent meaning; chakan means savannah, while chan means serpent, sky, four.
This problem has not been dealt with adequately in previous research. Thus the question here is, did
the original text that Po Prez copied indeed have Chan putun for Chakan putun? And if so, can
Chakan putun be equated with Champoton? The Man text is the only text that survived in the form
of a copy compiled by a nineteenth century editor who collected indigenous Yucatec Maya texts. It is
also the only version that contains the item Chan putun/chanputun. Po Prez himself twice corrected
a mistake he made in his initial version of the chronicle he was copying. He added ah to chuulte
(Man MS 135, line 1) and hun ahaw in a sequence of katuns (Man MS 135, line 19). Additionally,
the closest parallel chronicle to the Man Chronicle is the Tizimn Chronicle (MS 18v-19r). The Tizimn
Chronicle only uses chakan putun, as is also the case with the First and Second Chumayel Chronicle.
Based on the fact that only the Man Chronicle contains Chan putun/chanputun as well as Chakan
putun in reference to the same geographical location, while the other chronicles (of which we have the
Yucatec Maya versions in original indigenous hand writing) only have Chakan putun, it can be rea-
sonably assumed that Chakan putun is the correct spelling and that Chan putun was put in writing
due to mistakes made by Po Prez during the process of copying. Without any comment also Barrera
Vsquez and Morley (1949: 32-33) prefer an original spelling Chakan putun to Chan putun. As such
I conclude that Champoton can not be derived from Chakan putun as chan/cham and chakan
are dierent lexical items with completely dierent meanings and there now is no legitimate intermediate
form Chan putun/chanputun. If my deduction is correct, to which geographical location does Chakan
putun refer? In the fteenth to seventeenth century there was an area named both Chakan (chacan)
and Chakan Itz (chacan itza) just west of Lake Petn in the central Maya area (Jones 1998: 96-100,
Maps 3-4). In previous research the question was asked if originally [...] Chakanputun [could] have been
Chakan peten? This suggestion was considered a good possibility by Grant Jones (Schele, Grube, and

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 149

Boot 1998: 416, note 7; emphasis in original) and this suggestion is followed here too (cf. Boot 1997c:
178). It should be added, however, that putun is not considered to be a cognate of peten. It has
been suggested that poton (by most researchers considered to be a cognate of putun) is derived from
Nhuatl potonia meaning to smell badly (Gmara, cited by Brinton 1882: 125; cf. Simon 1988
[1885]: 394 potoni oler mal), but this derivation is doubted by Scholes and Roys (1968: 52, note
12). Both putun (even if derived from Nhuatl potonia) and peten are considered to be toponymic
in nature, as especially peten in Yucatec Maya means province, district, island (Barrera Vsquez et al.
1980: 648). This consideration is based on an important passage in the work of Fray Antonio de Ciudad
Real:

Todos los indios de aquella provincia, que estn a cargo de nuestros frailes, hablan una lengua que se llama
mayathan o lengua de Maya, excepto los de Campeche que dieron en algunos vocablos y llmase su lengua
campechthan o lengua de Campeche, y los de Tixchel que tienen otra lengua ms diferente, llamada putunthan
o chontal; pero los unos y los otros son muy pocos respecto de Maya, y sabida la lengua dstos fcilmente se
sabe la de los otros.(Ciudad Real 1993 [1588-1592]: vol. 2, p. 320 [Cap. CXLII], compare to vol. 2, p. 356
[Cap. CL]; emphasis in 1993 edition)

In Yucatn the language spoken was generally referred to as mayathan maya-speech, in which maya
functions as a toponym (mayathan language of maya). The original entry in the Diccionario de
Motul for maya is accento en la primera, nombre propio defta tierrade Yucatan (Ciudad Real 1984,
vol. 2: fol. 287r; cf. Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 513, who delete the phrase accento en la primera). This
is conrmed by Landa who writes:

[...] llegaron a la costa de Yucatan a vna provincia que llamavan de la Maya de la qual La lengua de Yucatan
se llama Mayathan que quiere dezir lengua de Maya.(Landa 1566: fol. 3r, lines 39-42; Landa 1986: 6; Tozzer
1941: 7 & note 33)

Conrmation that the Motul entry indeed provides the correct pronunciation of maya can be found in
the work of Lpez de Cogolludo (note 43):

Este tierra de Yucatan, quien los naturales de ella llaman Mya, fue governada muchos tiempos por un seor
supremo, [...]. Tenia este rey por cabecera de su monarquia una cidad muy populosa, llamada Mayapn (de
quien debia de derivarse llamar esta tierra Mya) [...](Lpez de Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 1: 233 [Lib. 2,
Cap. III]; emphasis & accentuation in original)

Also Campeche serves as a toponym, although it should be noted that the name Campech(e) or Kanpech(e)
(Canpech(e) is more regularly used in the early Colonial period) is a corruption of a possible Classic
Maya deity name Kanpet or Kanpech who gave its name to the region and to the colonial province and
the later Mexican state (note 44). In the above quotation putunthan refers to the language of the area
in which Tixchel is situated. Thus also here putun in putunthan (as maya in mayathan) serves as a
toponym. Additionally I note that chakan putun does not refer to the Tixchel or Acaln area; although
the Ciudad Real passage clearly relates putun to this area, it does not indicate that chakan putun is to
be related to this area. In the Paxbolon Papers the inhabitants of Acaln refer to themselves as amac tun
Those of Maktun and mactun vinicob Maktun People, while they refer to their land as tamactun

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150 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

At Maktun or Stone-ledge (or -obstruction) (cf. Izquierdo 1997: 37-38; Scholes and Roys 1968: 51-52
& facsimiles of original Chontal text between pages 366-367).
Both putun and peten are modied by chakan savannah and Chakan putun may thus re-
fer to a savannah of putun. This particular savannah may be the Chakan or Chakan Itz savannah
northwest of Lake Petn Itz. This identication is still not secure and possibly other savannah areas in
the central Petn may apply (or even in northern Yucatn, note the province named Chakan of which
Tiho was the capital, cf. Roys 1957). Eventually, according to the chronicles that is, also Chakanputn
was abandoned by the Itz. It is particularly at this point that the ve chronicles dier substantially. Until
now the chronicles reveal a pattern in which the katun 8 Ahaw gures prominently. Time and again the
events in a katun 8 Ahaw involve the discovery, taking possession/seizure, and/or abandonment of
specic locations (cf. Boot 1997c: 169; Craine and Reindorf 1979: 121, note 224; Puleston 1979: 64-66;
Roys 1933: 136, note 3). In the passages of the chronicles analyzed above these katuns 8 Ahaw were in
consecutive order. If the chronological placements suggested here are correct, the following list emerges:

Katun 8 Ahaw Event Recorded Location

A.D. 672-692 discovery Chichn Itz


A.D. 928-948 abandonment Chichn Itz
taking possession/seizure Chakanputn
A.D. 1185-1204 abandonment Chakanputn

The direct association of these events with a katun 8 Ahaw may seem to be a fabrication or, at the least,
a historical coincidence that needs further explanation. The primary katun associated with discovery,
settlement, and/or abandonment is indeed a katun 8 Ahaw, however, in two cases the period of
discovery and settlement seems to have a duration of circa three katuns. As such the three katuns
(8 Ahaw, 6 Ahaw, and 4 Ahaw) are associated with the discovery of Chichn Itz. Also there are three
katuns associated with the taking possession (or seizure) of Chakanputn (8 Ahaw, 6 Ahaw, and
4 Ahaw). Additionally it should be noted that the chronological placements for the discovery of Chi-
chn Itz (A.D. 672-731) precedes the archaeological attested orescence while the initial abandon-
ment of Chichn Itz (A.D. 928-948) succeeds the archaeological attested main period of orescence at
the site between circa A.D. 869-890 (the period with the highest concentration of dated inscriptions).

The Later Migrations to Tan Xuluk Mul and Ox Kin Kiwik

Chakanputn is abandoned by the Itz in a katun 8 Ahaw, which can be placed at A.D. 1185-1204
(cf. Boot 1997c: 176; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 418; Schele and Mathews 1998: 367). To what
place the next migration takes the Itz is explained in the following passage from the Third Chumayel
Chronicle:

//79// Hun ahau paxci yala ah ytza tu chichheen tu


10 yoxpitz tun ychil hun ahau paxci uchichheen ----
Lahca ahau
Lahun ahau
Vaxac ahau u katunil hedzci cab yala ah ytza

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 151

likul yanche yalan haban: tan xuluc mul:


15 u kaba. ti likulob cauhedzahob luum. aclac
tun. mayapan u kaba. tu uuc pitz tun vaxac
ahau u katunil laix ukatunil cimci cha
kanputun tumen kak upacal yetel
tec uilue.
20 Vac ahau ---
Can Ahau ---
Cabil ahau -
Oxlahun ahau -
buluc ahau -
25 Bolon ahau -
Vuc ahau --
(Gordon 1913: MS 97, lines 9-26)

//79// 1 Ahaw, abandoned it was by the remainder of the Itz, at the mouth of the well. In
10 the third measured tun within 1 Ahaw, abandoned was the mouth of the well.
12 Ahaw
10 Ahaw
8 Ahaw was the katun, established their land the remainder of the Itz,
from beneath the trees, beneath the bushes at Tan Xuluk Mul,
15 its name. From there they took possession of the land of Saklaktun
Mayapn, its name. It was in the seventh measured tun of 8 Ahaw,
the katun; this was the katun they died in Chakanputn
because of Kakupakal and
Tekuylu.
20 6 Ahaw
4 Ahaw
2 Ahaw
13 Ahaw
11 Ahaw
25 9 Ahaw
7 Ahaw
(translation by the author)

This passage opens with a katun 1 Ahaw to be associated with the abandonment of the area around the
mouth of the well. It is abandoned by the remainder (yala) of the Itz (ah ytza), thus those who had
stayed when previous groups left the site and area of settlement. There is, for instance, a katun 1 Ahaw at
circa A.D. 869-889, which recalls the date as found in a passage outside the chronicles in the Chumayel
on page 85 (Gordon 1913: MS 85, lines 15-17), as cited earlier. More probable here (and possibly also
relative to the Chumayel MS 85 example) is a katun 1 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1125-1145 associated with
the abandonment of Chichn Itz. For this placement the next events pertaining to the katun 8 Ahaw
in lines 13-19 are of importance.
The description of the events seems to combine information pertaining to dierent katuns 8 Ahaw,
but the most revealing information here is that this katun 8 Ahaw was considered to be the katun they

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152 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

died (in) Chakanputn (ukatunil cimci cha//kanputun, prepositions are often ignored). At the same
time this katun 8 Ahaw was the katun when the remainder of the Itz (yala ah itzae) established
their land (hedzci cab) from beneath the trees (likul yanche), beneath the bushes (yalan haban)
to arrive at Tan Xuluk Mul, as is its name (tan xuluc mul: u kaba). If this indeed is the katun 8 Ahaw
associated in the other chronicles (First Chumayel Chronicle, Tizimn Chronicle, Man Chronicle) with
the abandonment of Chakanputn, the settlement of Tan Xuluk Mul has to occur in the katun 8 Ahaw
of circa A.D. 1185-1204 (Boot 1997c: 176; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 418; Schele and Mathews
1998: 367). If correct, this would corroborate a placement for katun 1 Ahaw in this passage at circa A.D.
1125-1145.

The frequently occurring Yucatec Maya phrase beneath the trees, beneath the bushes (e.g. Chumayel
MS 74, line 14: yanche yalan haban) also can be found in a more extensive variant as beneath the
trees, beneath the bushes, beneath the vines (e.g. Man MS 135, line 13: yalan che, yalan aban, yalan
ak). In ancient Mesoamerica a similar phrase is sometimes used in the description of the migration or
peregrination of the Chichimeca. In the Diario de Chimalpahin, conserved in the National Library in
Paris, the following passage can be found when they (in a passage directly before referred to as the Mexica
Azteca Chichimeca) migrate again:

auh ypan in yn omoteneuh 12 Acatl


yn hualolinque ynic hualneneque
ynic huitze hualacxipetlatiaque
nohuian quautla acatla tepetla
atlauthtla
cuillotla nequametla tzihuactla teo-
cotla xihuallacatl [...]
(Diario, Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin, Fol. 76/Pag. 69)

y en dicho ao 12 Caa, partieron,


peregrinaron, vinieron hacia ac
dejando las huellas de sus pies,
entre los rboles, en medio de la
hierba, de las montaas, de los barrancos,
de las hierbas comestibles, de los
agaves, de los arbustros [espinosos], de
los pinos, de caaverales, [...]
(Durand Forest 1995: 432, transcription & translation; emphasis mine)

Durand Forest suggests that quautla acatla is a difrasismo, a metaphorical expression containing ele-
ments that complement each other, que alude a una manera de vivir como un salvaje (Durand Forest
1995: 419). Simon, however, records quauhtla acatla simply as bosques, campos, sabanas while
specically quauhtla mo-chiua o ualeua is recorded as silvestre, salvaje (Simon 1988 [1885]: 413).
Additionally, she does not take the other terms into account (i.e tepetla atlauthtla cuillotla nequametla
tzihuactla tecotla xihuallacatl). This passage simply seems to refer to the hardships endured when on the
move (even if the passage contains difrasismos or not). In de Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca two passages
can be found that convey a similar idea. The rst passage reads:

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 153

Auh nican tlami yn otli yuan yn


tonalli yn oquitlallitiaque yn tachtouan yn tocolhuan
yn chichimeca yn tepilhuan ynic uallotlatocaque yn
ixtlauacan yn zacatl yn quauhtla [...]
(Historia Tolteca Chichimeca, Fol. 26r/MS 46-50; my emphasis)

Aqu termina el camino y los dias que


dejaron registrados nuestros bisabuelos, nuestros
abuelos los tepilhuan chichimeca cuando recorrieron el
camino por la llanura, el zacatal, el bosque [...]
(Kirchho, Odena Gemes, and Reyes Garca 1989: 180 [par. 263]; emphasis mine)

It can be recognized from this passage that the Chichimeca (referred to as yn chichimeca yn tepilhuan)
have arrived at their nal destination and that this is a kind of summary of the hardships they had to
endure. In the second passage direct reference is made to a map on which the linderos (border places)
can be found and where these hardships were endured:

Auh niman ya yuan quintepantia niman


ya quinualmapiluillia yn ixtlauac yn teotlalli yn
zacayo yn quauhyo yn imelchiquiuh yn intzontecon yn ipatiuh
(Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca, Fol. 35r/MS46-50)

Y luego adems les sealan sus linderos,


luego les sealen con el dedo la llanura, la tierra divina, el
zacatl, el bosque, lo que era su recompensa
(Kirchho, Odena Gemes, and Reyes Garca 1989: 199 [par. 304]; emphasis mine)

Although these two Nhuatl examples are more extensive in wording, the parallel phrasing and placement
of beneath the trees (yalan che), beneath the bushes (yalan aban), beneath the vines (yalan ak) in
the Yucatec Maya texts is intriguing. In sum, in the Yucatec Maya chronicles this particular phrase refers
to the hardships the Itz had to endure when on the road to their new destination.

The location of Tan Xuluk Mul, as described in the Third Chumayel Chronicle, again occurs in a passage
in the Second Chumayel Chronicle. Also in this case it is combined with information pertaining to a
dierent event:

//78// [...] Oxlahunte ti katun. lic utepalobi: Caoci


ukebanthanobi. tumen hun nac ceeli: Capaxi uca
bob. cabiniob tan yolche: tan xuluc mul: v kaba
(Gordon 1913: MS 78, lines 4-6, transcription by the author)

//78// Thirteen katuns they ruled. Then entered


the treason by Hunnak Keel. They abandoned their
land, they went into the heart of the forest, Tan Xuluk Mul was its name.
(translation by the author)

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154 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

In the Second Chumayel Chronicle the order of the katuns is correct, but only sporadically the name of
the katun is given. This is also true for the above passage, no named katun is given. Based on the chrono-
logical placement in the Third Chumayel Chronicle this passage can be dated to a katun 8 Ahaw at circa
A.D. 1185-1204. The entering of the treason by Hunnak Keel (ukebanthanobi tumen hun nac
ceeli) refers to a dierent event, which is associated with the same katun, but not with Tan Xuluk Mul.
If indeed the Itz established their land at Tan Xuluk Mul in a katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1185-1204,
where is this place located? In this passage Tan Xuluk Mul is described as tan yolche or amidst the
center of the forest. It was Roys who rst referred to the manuscript by Fray Andrs de Avedao y Loyola
on his two trips to Tayasal, written in 1696 (Roys 1933: 140, note 1, who refers to translation in Means
1917). In this work, Avedao y Loyola reported on a pond named Tan xuluc mul, a short distance west
of Lake Petn:

Y llegados pues a este cibal de Tan xuluc mul que fue antes de ponerse el sol, una hora tuvimos que mirar y
admirar, [...]. Tuvimos que mirar y admirar en unos mules riscos o edicios tan altos, que casi se perdan de
vista, y como coga la vista en descombrado dndoles el sol de lleno, se recreaba en verlos, [...]. Que dicen
adorar all en un dolo afamado; nosotros con el buen celo que nos asista determinamos de subir a quebrarlo,
[...] (Avedao y Loyola 1996 [1696]: 29 [fol. 24v]; transcription by Vayhinger-Scheer).

Avedao y Loyola never found the famed idol that was said to be worshipped at Tan Xuluk Mul. It was
again Roys who further suggested that the reference to Tan Xuluk Mul would indicate that some of the
Itz at least migrated to Tayasal at this time (Roys 1933: 140, note 1). Brinton was not able to identify
the location of Tan Xuluk Mul, which he could not locate in Yucatn (Brinton 1882: 174), but it has to
be noted that in Brintons time the work of Avedao y Loyola was still unknown. Earlier it was proposed
that Chakanputn might be a reference to a territory later named Chakan or Chakan Itz, located west
of Lake Petn. Now that Tan Xuluk Mul provides a second location in the same area west of Lake Petn
this may indeed indicate that groups of Itz remigrated south to the area around Lake Petn in the period
of circa A.D. 1185-1204, a katun named 8 Ahaw.
A completely dierent source of information may provide additional evidence that indeed groups of
Itz migrated to the south. It can be found in a folk-story collected by Redeld and Villa Rojas in the
village of Chan Kom and it was told by Guillermo Tamay:

From the time that God made men, there have been three races of them on the earth; that of the Itza, who
were wise; that of the ppuzob, who were punished by God with the ood, and that of the Maya who live today.
The Itza have not died. They live underground in a place called Oxkin kiuic, and when the race of men here is
done with, they will return to their ancient cities. One time a dzul succeeded in getting down to them by way
of a path which led into a cave at Chichen Itza. Then the priest of the Itza, to prevent more men from coming,
made a great deal of water run out this path, enough to ll up the cave. So was made the cenote today called
X-Toloc (Redeld and Villa Rojas 1934: 331; emphasis mine).

The name Oxkin kiuic means Three-day-plaza (or market) as noted by Redeld and Villa Rojas
(1934: 331, note 1). Villa Rojas later noted that Villagutierre described una sabana in historical Itz
territory que, por su gran extensin, fue llamada Oxkin-kiuic que signica plaza de tres das (Villa
Rojas 1987 [1945]: 440). Villagutierre himself wrote:

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 155

Y ms dijo que haba algunos aos, que estuvieron convocados los itzes, para formar ejrcito en la sabana de
Oxhmkibic (que en su idioma signica plaza de tres das, por ser muy dilatada) para que arrasando, y habiendo
consumido a todos los espaoles, quedasen libres sus tierras, y se hiciese lo propio por la parte de la Verapaz,
segn dio a entender por el rumbo que sealaba (Villagutierre 1985 [1701]: 337 [Lib. 6, Cap. IV]).

Here Oxhmkibic is an orthographic corruption of Oxkin kiuic, which in the modern orthography
would be Ox Kin Kiwik. The katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1185-1204 is not only associated with
the abandonment of Chakanputn and the settlement of Tan Xuluk Mul, the Third Chumayel
Chronicle as cited above also associated this katun with events in the history of the site of Mayapn. To
recapitulate:

//79// Vaxac ahau u katunil hedzci cab yala ah ytza


likul yanche yalan haban: tan xuluc mul:
15 u kaba. ti likulob cauhedzahob luum. aclac
tun. mayapan u kaba. tu uuc pitz tun vaxac
ahau u katunil laix ukatunil cimci cha
kanputun tumen kak upacal yetel
tec uilue.
(Gordon 1913: MS 79, lines 13-19)

//79// 8 Ahaw the katun, established their land the remainder of the Itz,
from beneath the trees, beneath the bushes at Tan Xuluk Mul,
15 its name. From there they took possession of the land of Saklaktun
Mayapn, its name. It was in the seventh measured tun of 8 Ahaw,
the katun; this was the katun they died in Chakanputn
because of Kakupakal and
Tekuylu.
(translation by the author)

The entry for this katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1185-1204 seems to contain information on two dierent
events. The rst event involved the abandonment of Chakanputn and the settlement of Tan Xuluk
Mul. The second event is the taking possession of the land of Saklaktun Mayapn. It is, however, strange
to expect the taking possession of Mayapn to be from Chakanputn, a region in the Southern Maya
Lowlands, as postulated earlier. This may be a dierent group that probably arrived from the east from
Chichn Itz. According to this passage they died at Chakanputn because of Kakupakal and Tekuylu,
in which Kakupakal is the name of a valient Itz captain (cf. Kelley 1968; see Chapter 4) (note 45).
The other chronicles provide additional information on Mayapn that may substantiate the fact that
Mayapn may indeed have been founded close to a katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1185-1204. The Second
Chumayel Chronicle provides the following passage:

//78// Vaxac ahau u katunil: uchci yulelob: yalaob


10 ah ytza u kabaob: Caulob. tij caualac utepalob
chakan putune: Oxlahun ahau. u katunil. v
hedz cob cah mayapan. mayauinic u kabaob
Vaxac ahau paxci u cabobi. Cauec chahi ti

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156 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

peten tulacal. Vac katuni paxciob. caha


15 ui umaya kabaob. Buluc ahau u kaba u
katunil hauci u maya kabaob. maya uinicob
Christiano ukabaob tulacal. V Cuch Cabal
tzo ma San Pedro y Rey tepale ------
(Gordon 1913: MS 78 lines 9-18)

//78// 8 Ahaw was the katun, occurred the arrival of the remainder of
10 the Itz, their name. Then they arrived; endured their rule
at Chakanputn. 13 Ahaw was the katun, they settled the
village of Mayapn, Maya men was their name.
8 Ahaw, abandoned were their lands, scattered were they
through the district as a whole. Six katuns after they abandoned it,
15 then ceased their name to be Maya. 11 Ahaw is the name of
the katun, ceased their name to be Maya, to be Maya men.
Christians was their name. The whole province
under Saint Peter and King, the ruler.
(translation by the author)

In this passage the katun 8 Ahaw associated with the arrival of the Itz at Chakanputn is the katun
8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 928-948. Then a giant leap in time is taken as a period of some 335 years apparently
has been deleted. The katun 13 Ahaw recorded next is associated with the settlement (u hedz cob cah
they settled the village) of Mayapn. Only a chronological placement of katun 13 Ahaw at circa A.D.
1007-1027 or circa A.D. 1263-1283 seems to be possible. In a previous essay a placement at circa A.D.
1007-1027 was preferred (Boot 1997c: 176), which is also followed here. At Mayapn several stelae with
inscriptions have been found that provide references to certain pertinent katun periods. In a recent study,
Graa-Behrens (2002: 214-225, 309-312, 439-440) suggests the following calendrical placements for
these stelae (katun dates and Long Count placements coverted to Christian dates):

Stela katun Calendrical Placement

Stela 4 & Stela 10 (Fragment) 3 Ahaw A.D. 1106-1125, or


A.D. 1362-1382
Stela 1 ( Figure 2.51) 10 Ahaw A.D. 1165-1185, or
A.D. 1421-1441
Stela 9 2 Ahaw A.D. 1244-1263
Stela 6 13 Ahaw A.D. 1263-1283

In large measure these placements are in line with earlier suggestions proposed in previous research (Boot
1997c: 176; Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998: 418-424; Schele and Mathews 1998: 367), but the recent
reconstructions are superior to these earlier suggestions. If the chronological placements for these three
stelae are correct (Graa-Behrens prefers the latest placements in regard to Stela 4, 10, and 1), it may
lend some additional support to the date of Mayapns putative foundation in a katun 13 Ahaw at circa
A.D. 1007-1027. All stelae were produced some considerable time after the foundation of Mayapn.
Relative to these ethnohistorical dates on the foundation of Mayapn, it has to be noted that the earli-

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 157

est occupation of the site has been attested archaeologically at circa 300 B.C. Interestingly, the putative
foundation in a katun 13 Ahaw also antedates the generally accepted period of orescence at Mayapn
of circa A.D. 1200-1250 to A.D. 1450 (e.g. Millet Cmara 1999: 11, 13; Peraza Lope 1999: 48, 49) into
which the dates of these stelae would fall. These particular later chronological placements seem to be in
agreement with the passage for a katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1165-1185 that involved the abandon-
ment of Chakanputn and the contemporary settlement of Tan Xuluk Mul and Mayapn. It should
however be remembered that the katun 8 Ahaw seems to function as some kind of anchor or key katun
for locking the chronologies and associated events for the history of Northern Yucatn. That is why ad-
ditional katuns (either preceding or succeeding) are involved with similar events. This process could be
seen previously in the case of the settlement of Chichn Itz as
well as the settlement and seizure of Chakanputn.

Also in the case of Mayapn dierent groups of Itz seem to have


arrived at dierent periods of time, as the next passage from the
First Chumayel Chronicle indicates:

//75// VIII Vaxac ahau. paxci ah ytza uinicob ti yotochob


tucaten tumen u keban than. hun nac Ceel
tumen u uahal uahob: y ah ytzmal oxlahun
uudz u katunil. cahanobi: Capaxiob tumen hun
nac Ceel. tumen udzabal unatob ah ytzaob lae
30 VI Vac ahau
IIII Can ahau. chuc ci uluumil ichpaa maya
pan. tumen ah ytza uinicob likulob ti yotochob
tumenel ah ytzmalob tumen u keban than
hun nac ceel: lae.
//76// II Cabil ahau.
XIII Oxlahun ahau
XI Buluc ahau.
IX Bolon ahau.
05 VII Vuc ahau
V. Hoo ahau.
III Ox ahau
I Hun ahau
XII Lahca ahau.
10 X. Lahun ahau
VIII. Vaxac ahau. uch ci puchh tun. ychpaa: maya
pan. tumen upach paa. u pach tu lum: tu
men multepal ychcah mayapan lal lae
VI. Vac ahau
(Gordon 1913: MS 75, line 25 - MS 76, line 14)
Figure 2.51 Mayapn, Stela 1 (draw-
ing by Linda Schele)

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158 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

//75// VIII 8 Ahaw, abandoned were the Itz people, from their home
for a second time, because of the treason by Hunnak Keel,
because of the preparation of bread, and those from Izamal. Thirteen
folds of the katun they resided. Then they abandoned it because of Hun-
nak Keel, because of the interference with the understanding of the Itz.
30 VI 6 Ahaw
IIII 4 Ahaw, seized was the land of Ich Paa Mayapn,
by the Itz men, separated they were from their home;
because of those from Izamal, because of the treason
of Hunnak Keel.
//76// II 2 Ahaw
XIII 13 Ahaw
XI 11 Ahaw
IX 9 Ahaw
05 VII 7 Ahaw
V. 5 Ahaw
III 3 Ahaw
I 1 Ahaw
XII 12 Ahaw
10 X. 10 Ahaw
VIII. 8 Ahaw, occurred throwing stones at Ich Paa
Mayapn, because it was behind a wall, because it was
behind a palisade, because of multepal within the city of Mayapn.
VI. 6 Ahaw
(translation by the author)

The rst katun 8 Ahaw mentioned can be placed at A.D. 1185-1204 and describes an event in which
now a certain Hun(n)ak Keel is involved, a particular event that is not of our concern here in detail. This
episode is connected to the history of Chichn Itz in its last phase as a waning political power (compare
to Davoust 2002). The phrase tucaten literally means for a (or on a tu) second (ca) time (ten),
but should be interpreted simply as again (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 303). The event described
seems to refer to the abandonment of Chichn Itz proper. Remember in this case the katun 1 Ahaw at
circa A.D. 1125-1145, associated with the abandonment of Chichn Itz, as discussed above. In other
chronicles this katun 8 Ahaw at A.D. 1185-1204 involved the abandonment of Chakanputn and the
settlement of Tan Xulukmul as well as Mayapn (Third Chumayel Chronicle). The katun 4 Ahaw that
follows here, involved with the seizure of Mayapn, can be placed at A.D. 1224-1244. The description
for this katun conrms a previous assessment that the settlement of Mayapn involved a group of Itz,
more than probably arriving from Chichn Itz. The next katun 8 Ahaw is involved with the throwing
of stones (uch ci puchh tun) at Mayapn, a reference to the fall of Mayapn. The reason is also given,
namely multepal, generally translated as crowd rule (Edmonson 1986: 54, line 109 & note) or joint
rule or government (Roys 1933: 137, note 8; cf. Roys 1962; Schele and Freidel 1990), a kind of political
organization with which Mayapn is particularly associated (cf. Boot 1999e, 2001c & see Chapter 5).
This particular katun 8 Ahaw can be placed at A.D. 1441-1461. This chronological placement can be
conrmed through other sources. The Tizimn Chronicle provides the following passage on the katun
8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1441-1461:

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 159

oxlahun ahau - buluc ahau -uuc ahau -


//19r// ho ahau - ox ahau - hun ahau - lahca ahau - lahun ahau
vaxac ahau - uch ci puchh tun ich paa - mayapan tumen upach
tulum tumen multepal ich cah mayapan - vac ahau - cabil
ahau - oxlahun tun mani dzulob v yax il cob ulumil yu
05 catan tzucubte can kal hab catac ox la hum pisi - buluc a
hau - bolon ahau - vuc ahau ho ahau - ox ahau - hun ahau
lahca ahau - lahun ahau - vaxac ahau - vac ahau - can
ahau - cabil ahau - oxlahun ahau - buluc ahau - vaxac a
hau
(Mayer 1980b: fol. 23v [18v], line 38 - fol. 24r [19r], lines 1-9)

13 Ahaw, 11 Ahaw, 9 Ahaw, 7 Ahaw,


//19r// 5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw, 1 Ahaw, 12 Ahaw, 10 Ahaw,
8 Ahaw, occurred throwing stones at Ich Paa Mayapn, because it was behind
a wall, because of multepal in the town of Mayapn. 6 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw,
(in the) thirteenth tun came the foreigners, their rst seeing of the land of
05 Yucatn Tzukubte. Four score years and thirteen measured (years). 11
Ahaw, 9 Ahaw, 7 Ahaw, 5 Ahaw, 3 Ahaw, 1 Ahaw,
12 Ahaw, 10 Ahaw, 8 Ahaw, 6 Ahaw, 4
Ahaw, 2 Ahaw, 13 Ahaw, 11 Ahaw, 8 Ahaw
(translation by the author)

Makemson (1951: 69) seems to translate uch ci puchh tun as demolishing the stone buildings. I have
more condence in a translation occurred throwing stones, a possible indication how the conict was
waged.
The Man Chronicle presents a rather garbled version of the same events with calendrical placements
that seem to be quite incorrect. Instead of a katun 8 Ahaw the seizure of Mayapn and the later throw-
ing of stones is associated with a katun 11 Ahaw:

//136// Vac ahau, can ahau, cabil ahau, oxlahun ahau, buluc ahau,
chucuc u luumil ich paa mayapan tumenel u pach tulum: tu
10 menel mul tepal ich cah, (cah) mayalpan tumenel, (tumenel)
Itza uinicob yetel ulmil ahau lae, can kal haab catac ox pel
haab; yocol buluc ahau cuchi, paxci mayalpan tumenel ah
uitzil dzul tan cah mayapan 83 aos
Vaxac ahau lai paxci mayapan, lai u katunil, uac ahau
15 can ahau, cabil ahau lai haab cu ximbal ca yax mani espano
les u yax ilci caa lumi yucatan tzucubte lae ox kal haab paxac
ich pa cuchie 60 aos
(Craine and Reindorf 1979: 136, MS 136 lines 8-17)

//136// 6 Ahaw, 4 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw, 13 Ahaw, 11 Ahaw,


taken was the land of Ich Paa Mayapn, because it was behind walls,
10 because of multepal in the town of Mayapn, by

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160 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Itz people and Ulmil Ahaw. Four scores of years and three measured
years until 11 Ahaw, it happened, abandoned was Mayapn because of
the foreigners from the hills in the town of Mayapn. 83 years.
8 Ahaw, abandoned was Mayapn. This is the katun: 6 Ahaw,
15 4 Ahaw, 2 Ahaw, this is the year that went by when rst came Spaniards,
it was rst they saw the land of Yucatn Tzukubte. Three scores of years,
since was abandoned Ich Paa, it occurred 60 years.
(translation by the author)

The text for the katun 11 Ahaw describes the fall of Mayapn, again due to multepal. A few lines
down a katun 11 Ahaw is specically related to the abandonment (paxci) of Mayapn. The name
of the city here is written twice as mayalpan (MS 136 lines 10 & 12), which also occurs earlier in the
same chronicle (MS 135 lines 20 & 26). Only the Man Chronicle uses the item mayalpan where
the other chronicles use mayapan. Like chan putun also mayalpan is incorrect and possibly due
to copy mistakes. The calendrical placements seem to be incorrect, as again a couple of lines down the
sentence Vaxac ahau lai paxci mayapan 8 Ahaw, abandoned was Mayapn can be found. This is the
katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1441-1461 as described in the First Chumayel Chronicle and the Tizimn
Chronicle. It is still unknown why the Man Chronicle presents several of these chronological inconsis-
tencies (a katun 11 Ahaw can be found at circa A.D. 1283-1303 and A.D. 1539-1559). As we do not
know from which original chronicle Po Prez copied his version, it can be suggested that his chronicle
may be a combination of several dierent ones, parallel as it is in many cases with the Tizimn Chronicle.
The dierent and inconsistent entries that occur in the Man Chronicle may have been taken from an
additional and unknown chronicle or are due to illegibility of the original texts, incorrect arrangements
or copy mistakes by Po Prez.

The last katun 8 Ahaw mentioned in the chronicles is associated with the abandonment of Mayapn,
which can be placed at circa A.D. 1441-1461. Several Spanish language sources provide corroboration
of this particular placement. The work of the Yucatec historiographer Lpez de Cogolludo provides the
following lines on the abandonment of Mayapn:

Quedar Yucatan sin supremo seor totalmente, cuando la ambicion de los particulares, uniendo sus fuerzas, y
coligndose para consequir su intento; le ordenaron la destruicion de la ciudad de Mayapn corte del, reino,
y asolaron, cerca de los aos del Seor de mil y cuatrocientos y veinte (segun el cmputo de las edades de los
indios) los doscientos y sesenta aos de su fundacion. [...] (Lpez de Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 1: 233-234
[Lib. 4, Cap. III]).

These lines inform us on the destruction of the site of Mayapn in A.D. 1420, a chronological placement
very close to the katun 8 Ahaw at A.D. 1441-1461. These same lines also inform us on the foundation
of the site some 260 years before its destruction, that is A.D. 1160. This date is relatively close to the dates
from the chronicles on the foundation of Mayapn in a katun 13 Ahaw at A.D. 1007-1027 (Chumayel
MS 78, lines 11-12) and a katun 8 Ahaw at A.D. 1185-1204 (Chumayel MS 79, lines 13-16). The same
date of A.D. 1420 for the destruction of Mayapn is given in the work of the Spanish historiographer
Villagutierre, probably derived from the work of Lpez de Cogolludo:

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 161

Despus, con el tiempo, la deslealtad de algunos vasallos fue causa de la divisin de este reino, alzndose con
el dominio de diferentes territorios, ponindoles diversos nombres y constituyendo separada provincia, con
particular nominacin a aquella tierra que cada reyezuelo habitaba y cuyo tirnico vasallaje mantena, habi-
endo debajo a su rey supremo, y de todo Yucatn, slo con el seoro de la provincia de Man, donde se retir,
destruida, ya rruinada la ciudad populosa de Mayapn, capital de aquel reino y corte de sus reyes, el ao de
1420 (Villagutierre 1985 [1701]: 70 [Lib. 1, Cap. V]).

The manuscript of Fray Diego de Landa provides two short references on the fall of Mayapn:

Que conforme a la cuenta de los Indios ara c. y xx aos que se despoblo Mayapan, [...] (Landa 1566: folio 6r,
lines 37-38; Landa 1986: 17; Tozzer 1941: 38).

[...] despues de la destruccion de la cibdad de Mayapan que segun esta cuenta ace cxxv aos que se desbarato
[...] (Landa 1566: folio 8v, lines 25-27; Landa 1986: 20; Tozzer 1941: 42).

With the fact that the Landa manuscript is dated to 1566 on the rst text page (Landa 1566: fol. 1r, line 2)
and subtracting the amount of years since the destruction of Mayapn of 120 and 125 years, this leads
to a ve year period of A.D. 1441-1446 (cf. Tozzer 1941: 37, note 180). The inconsistency between the
two references by Landa seems dicult to explain, but maybe the counts are based on information from
dierent informants. Landas most prominent informants were Nachi Cocom, the former halach winik of
Sotut, and Gaspar Antonio Chi, who was born as a member of the Xiu family of Man (Karttunen 1994:
84-114; Lpez de Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 1: 238 [Lib. 4, Cap. IV]; Tozzer 1941: 44, note 211). The
Relaciones Geogrcas of the period A.D. 1579-1581 provide further information on the placement of
the fall of Mayapn. The Relacin de Tiab y Tiek, written in A.D. 1581, informs:

[...] esta tierra habla una sola lengua que llaman maya, lengua que hablaban los que poblaron a mayapan iudad
muy antigua que los naturales tubieron poblada mucho tiempo a donde fueron seores los tutul xives y fue la
vltima poblazon mas ynsigne que los naturales tuvieron y abra que se desplob iento y sesenta aos, [...] (De
la Garza et al. 1983, vol. 1: 312 & 318).

This would mean that the year of the abandonment of Mayapn fell in A.D. 1421 (A.D. 1581 minus 160
years), lending credit to the Cogolludo and Villagutierre calculations (and vice versa). The Relacin de
Tekanto y Tepakan, also written in A.D. 1581, informs that:

Toda esta provincia tiene una sola lengua, la cual todos los naturales hablan; llmase la lengua maya, de una
ciudad llamada Mayapan, que fue la ltima poblazn, que tuvieron los naturales, que a su cuenta de ellos habr
que se despobl ciento y cincuenta aos (De la Garza et al. 1983, vol. 1: 215).

This text would indicate that the year of abandonment of Mayapn fell in A.D. 1431 (A.D. 1581 minus
150 years), close to the date of the rst Relacin Geogrca and the work of Cogolludo and Villa-
gutierre. In case of this second Relacin Geogrca the help of Gaspar Antonio is explicitly acknowl-
edged (De la Garza et al. 1983, vol. 1: 219). All ve dierent dates (A.D. 1420, 1421, 1431, 1441, and
1446) are quite close to the katun 8 Ahaw that dates to circa A.D. 1441-1461. With condence the fall

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162 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

of Mayapn, as historically envisioned by the Yucatec Maya, can thus be attributed to this specic katun
8 Ahaw.

A Record of Katuns Named 8 Ahaw

Earlier in this chapter a short list was provided of the events and locations associated with a katun
8 Ahaw. Now that the last katun 8 Ahaw can be associated with the period of circa A.D. 1441-1461, a
more complete list can be presented. Based on the above chronological placements the following katuns
8 Ahaw, events, and locations can be identied, relative to the Itz:

Katun 8 Ahaw Event Recorded Location

A.D. 672-692 discovery Chichn Itz


A.D. 928-948 abandonment Chichn Itz
settlement/seizure Chakanputn

A.D. 1185-1204 abandonment Chakanputn


settlement/seizure Tan Xuluk Mul
settlement/seizure Mayapn
A.D. 1441-1461 abandonment Mayapn

As suggested at various occasions above, dierent but chronologically close katuns are also associated
with the same events. The association with the katun 8 Ahaw may have provided an anchor in the mental
recollection of the historical events as nally written down and described in the dierent chronicles. As
has been detailed above, all these specic events are also related to periods close to these katuns 8 Ahaw.
This also provides a reason why certain chronicles are shorter than others as they combined or abbrevi-
ated events pertaining to the same katun period. In the course of this analysis other sources have been
presented that provided additional support for the probable chronological correctness of certain katuns
8 Ahaw. These sources were ethnohistorical (other sources, mainly in the Spanish language), archaeologi-
cal (ceramic data combined with radiocarbon dates) as well as epigraphic (inscriptions associated with
dates in the indigenous calendar format).

2.3.3 The Itz and the Southern Maya Lowlands, circa A.D. 900-1700

It was between circa A.D. 672-731 (katuns 8 Ahaw, 6 Ahaw, and 4 Ahaw) that groups of Itz, according
to the diverse chronicles in the Books of Chilam Balam, arrived in northern Yucatn and founded the city
of Chichn Itz. During several generations their descendants ruled at this site, but possibly already in the
tenth century a rst group of Itz migrated back to the south (to Chakanputn). In later periods, ideally
about 256 years apart, other groups of Itz also left Chichn Itz to found new territories (Tan Xuluk
Mul, Mayapn). Two of these territories were found in the Southern Maya Lowlands (Chakanputn, Tan
Xuluk Mul), if the reconstructions as presented above are correct.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 163

The Arrivals from the North: A.D. 900-1200

Is there any archaeological evidence to be found in the Southern Maya Lowlands that could underwrite
my contention that groups from the north indeed arrived back in the south?
Several areas around the central lakes (among them Lake Petn, Lake Yaxh, and Lake Macanch)
have been the subject of archaeological research in recent years. This research has shown that the area was
continuously populated (cf. Chase 1990; Rice and Rice 1990). An area on which several articles recently
have been published is the Tayasal-Paxcamn area (Map 2.5). The following table, based on several sea-
sons of surveys and excavations, provides information on the reconstructed population density for the
period covering circa 750 B.C. to A.D. 1700, correlated with each separately identied ceramic phase:

Phase Period Relative Population All Structure Excavation


(%) (%)

Chunzalam 750- 250 4 4.04


Kax 250- 250 62 69.70
Yaxcheel 250- 400 63 21.21
Hoxchunchan 400- 550 75 25.25
Pakoc 550- 700 77 26.26
Hob 700- 950 100 56.57
Chilcob 950-1200 38 21.21
Cocoahmut 1200-1450 82 48.48
Kauil 1450-1700 18 10.10

This table (after Chase 1990: Table 7.4) does provide intriguing clues to the increase in relative popula-
tion in two important periods or phases. After the high point in the Hob phase (circa A.D. 700-950)
there occurred a substantial decline in population. It was in the Hob phase that most cities in the central
Maya area endured their orescence as well as their collapse. For the whole Central Maya Lowland area,
in this period the highest population number was reached; according to a recent population estimate,
some 2,65 to 3,39 million Maya may have lived at the peak of the Late Classic period (cf. Turner 1990:
Table 15.3). During the following Chilcob phase (circa A.D. 950-1200) only about a third of the popu-
lation was still in place in the Tayasal-Paxcamn area. For the Central Maya Lowland Maya area, a drop
of some 65% to 73% has been calculated (cf. Turner 1990: Table 15.3), coinciding quite neatly with the
population decline as calculated by Chase for the Tayasal-Paxcamn area. In the Cocahmut phase (circa
A.D. 1200-1450) there was a sharp increase in population, nearly reaching the level of the earlier Hob
phase. This archaeological dierentiated period falls just after the proposed migrations of the Itz, rst
to Chakanputn (in a katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 928-948) and later to Tan Xuluk Mul (in a katun
8 Ahaw circa A.D. 1185-1204). The increase of population in the Cocahmut phase can only in part
be explained through natural factors (i.e. natural increase through birth). This particular sharp increase
may indeed be due to new groups of Itz arriving in the central area in the Southern Maya Lowlands
(Chakanputn, Tan Xuluk Mul), among them also the Tayasal-Paxcamn area. In the Kauil phase (circa
A.D. 1450-1700) there was again a sharp decline in population. Although this decline is more dicult
to explain, it might indicate that the population spread over a large territory, as suggested in a previous
essay (Boot 1997c: 180). Additionally the decline in population in the southeastern area of Lake Petn

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164 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

may be inuenced by Spanish conquest and colonization on the eastern frontier of Itz territory (cf. Jones
1989, 1998).

Map 2.5 The Area of Tayasal-Paxcaman (in Chase 1990: Map 7.1)

The Meeting of Corts and Kanek (A.D. 1525)

What happened during the period of circa A.D. 1450-1700 in the Southern Maya Lowlands? The infor-
mation on this period mostly can be derived from the reports left by early colonial conquerors, priests,
and historiographers. Only the most important reports will be referred to here, as the main focus is con-
cerned with Itz occupation and origin.
Hernn Corts, the conqueror of the central Mexican kingdom of the Mexica between 1519 and
1521, was the rst Spaniard who traveled with a large expedition force through the Maya area. He was
also the rst who in detail described the rst visit to the island capital of the Itz. His expedition started
on October 12, 1524, and lasted until October 23, 1525 (Corts 1993: 221; cf. Bricker 1981: 21). His
Quinta Carta de Relacin (note 46), describing the events during this expedition and dated to Septem-
ber 3, 1526, contains the following passages. These passages by Corts are the rst ever written on the
Itz, the extent of their territorial domain, and their king named Kanek (Canec):

Salido de esta provincia de Mazatlan [the Nhuatl name of the territory of the Kehach], segu mi camino
para la de Taiza, y dorm a cuatro leguas en despoblado, que todo el camino lo era, y de grandes montaas y
sierras y aun hubo en l un mal puerto, que por ser todas las peas y piedras de l de alabastro muy no, se
puso nombre puerto de Alabastro, y al quinto da los corredores que llevaba delante con la gua asomaron a
una muy gran laguna, que pareca brazo de mar, y aun as creo que los es, aunque es dulce, segn su grandeza

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 165

y hondura, y en una isleta que hay en ella vieron un pueblo, el cual les dijo aquella gua ser el principal de
aquella provincia de Taiza, y que no tenamos remedio para pasar a l si no fuese en canoas, y quedaron all los
espaoles corredores puestos en salto, y volvi uno de ellos a hacerme saber los que pasaba. [...] (Corts 1993:
240; emphasis mine).

[...] Y as, repos en aquellas labranzas y recog toda la gente, y aposentla al mejor recaudo que yo pude, porque
me deca la gua de Mazatlan que aquella era mucha gente y muy ejercitada en la guerra, a quien todas aquellas
provincias comarcanas teman, djome que l queria ir en aquella canota en que habia venido el indio, que
tornara al pueblo que se pareca en la isleta, y est bien dos leguas de aqu hasta llegar a l, y que hablara al
seor, que concoca muy bien, y se llama Canec, y le dira mi intencin y causa de mi venida por aquellas tierras,
pues l haba venido conmigo, y la saba y la haba visto, y crea que se asegurara mucho y le dara crdito a
lo que dijese, porque era de l muy conocido y haba estado muchas veces en su casa. [...] (Corts 1993: 241;
emphasis mine).

[...] Fu de m muy bien recibido, y porque cuando lleg era hora de misa, hice que se dijese cantada y con
mucha solemnidad, con los ministriles de chirimas y sacabuches que conmigo iban; la cual oy con mucha
atencin y las ceremonias de ella, y acabada la misa vinieron all unos religiosos que llevaba, y por ellos le fu
hecho un sermn con la lengua, en manera que muy bien lo pudo entender, acerca de las cosas de nuestra fe, y
dndole a entender por muchas razones cmo no haba ms de un solo Dios, y el yerro de secta, y segn mostr
y dijo, satisfzose mucho, y dijo que l quera luego destruir sus dolos y creer en aquel Dios que nosotros le
decamos, y que quisiera mucho saber la manera que deba de tener para servirle y honrarle, y que si yo quisiese
ir a su pueblo, vera cmo en mi presencia quemaba, y quera que le dejase en su pueblo aquella cruz que le
deca que yo dejaba en todos los pueblos por donde yo haba pasado.
Despus de este sermn yo le torn a hablar, hacindole saber la grandeza de vuestra majestad, y que como
l y todos los del mundo ramos sus sbditos y vasallos, y le somos obligados a servir, y que a los que as lo
hacan vuestra majestad les mandara hacer muchas mercedes, y yo en su real nombre lo haba hecho en estas
partes as con todos los que a su real servicio se haban ofrecido y puesto debajo de su imperial yugo, y que as
lo prometa a l. l me respondi que hasta entonces no haba reconocido a nadie por seor ni haba sabido
que nadie lo debiese ser; [...] (Corts 1993: 242).

[...], que yo me fuese con l en las canoas a ver a su pueblo y su casa, y que vera quemar los dolos y le hara
hacer una cruz; y yo, por darle placer, aunque contra la voluntad de los de mi compaa, me entr con l en
las canoas con hasta veinte hombres, los ms de ellos ballesteros, y me fu a su pueblo con l todo aquel da
holgando, y ya que era casi noche me desped de l, y me di una gua, y me entr en las canoas, y me sal a
dormir a tierra, donde hall ya mucha de la gente de mi compaa que haba bajado a la laguna, y dormimos
all aquella noche. [...] (Corts 1993: 243).

These four passages describe a province named Taiza, in which a lake was situated (see also description
by Daz del Castillo 1977 [1568], vol. 2: 208-209). Taiza is probably a misspelling or orthographic
corruption of tah itza or *ti-ah itza-il at (ti) or of the Itz (ah itza) (cf. note by Hoing in Jones 1992:
250, note 2). Compare the placename Taiza (Tah Itza) with Tamaktun, the indigenous name of the terri-
tory of Acalan-Tixchel, that also contains a preposition, here ta at. There was an island in the lake and
on this island, and which was visible from the shore, a village was built. Here the seat of the ruler of the
Itz was found. According to Corts the ruler of this province was named Canec, a typical colonial mis-
spelling of the Itz name or hereditary title Canek (correct colonial spelling) or Kanek (present-day

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166 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

spelling). During this rst ever visit by Europeans the ruler Kanek apparently was impressed with what
was taught about Christianity and he promised to burn idols and to put up crosses in the island village.
Currently, however, there is no evidence at hand that Kanek indeed did burn his idols or place crosses
(cf. Jones 1998).

The Visits of Orbita and Fuensalida to Kanek (A.D. 1618-19)

Nearly one hundred years later, in the middle of October, 1618, another visit to the island village took
place. This visit was in reaction to a prior surprise visit by the Itz headman named Ahau Ppuc to Mrida
in 1616 or 1617. For this visit two Franciscan friars named Juan de Orbita and Bartolom de Fuensalida
left from Mrida to arrive at Tip and from this village they went to the island. They left Tip on Sep-
tember 28, 1618, but after two days they returned to the town. They left Tip a second time shortly
after, but subsequently they were held at the shore of the lake for eight days (Lpez de Cogolludo 1971
[1688], vol. 2: 225-227 [Lib. IX, Cap. 8]). Fuensalida wrote a relacin (report) about their visit, prob-
ably in 1619. Although the original report is lost, it fortunately is included at length in the work of the
Yucatec historiographer Lpez de Cogolludo. The following passage describes the events leading up to
their rst visit to the island:

Viendo los indios la tolerancia con que los seguian los religiosos, y que no parecian tener propsito de volver
atras, ntes mostraban mas nimo cuanto mas dicultad veian en el camino, los sacaron al bueno y derecho
despues de dos dias en que anduvieran como diez y ocho lguas, y llegaron la laguna de los itzaes, que llaman
Chaltuna.
Pasaron en su ribera, donde hicieron un rancho en que se puso altar para decir misa, y despacharon un
indio principal (que despues fu cacique) con algunos que le acompaasen, para que dijese al Canek cmo y
estaban all los religiosos. Dieron que le llevase un presente de las cosas que les habian dado en Mrida para
el efecto, con un poco de cacao y un muy bien alfanje. Advirtironle dijese al Canek que les enviase buenas
canoas, y algunas principales de sus indios que los llevasen. Pasado mas de ocho dias de detencion (que y daba
los religiosos cuidado) volvi D. Gaspar Cetzal (que as se llamaba el que fu) acompaado de los capitanes
Ah Cha Tappol y Ahau Ppuc, que habian ido al pueblo de Tep, con algunos indios y cuatro canoas grandes
que el Canek enviaba para que todos pasasen de un viaje. Con este buen avo se embarcaron muy alegres aquel
dia despues de comer, y navegaron con buen tiempo la travesa de la laguna, que ser como seis lguas. Los
itzaes que estaban la vista para reconocer cuando se acercaban, dieron aviso cmo iban los religiosos, y el
Canek envi un yerno suyo con otros de su familia en dos canoas, que salieron mas de dos lguas, saludarlos y
recibirlos en su nombre. Trajronles de la bebida que he dicho se llama zac, con su espuma de cacao estimada
entre ellos, que al n (dice la relacion) aunque brbaros tienen alguna urbanidad y gobierno poltico. Cuando
llegaron al desembarcadero muy cercano al pueblo, estaba el mismo cacique Canek con sus principales y gran
gento que habian salido recibirlos. [...] (Lpez de Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 2: 227 [Libro IX, Cap. 8]).

The island village, according to Fuensalida, was reached from a lagoon with the name Chaltun (chal,
variant of cal mouth; tun stone; a, variant of ha water; see Rice, Rice, and Pugh 1998: 214-
217 for more on Chaltun). The Fuensalida report again identies the Itz ruler as Kanek (Canek).
However, this Kanek can not be the same Kanek as the one met by Hernn Corts in 1525, as there is a
dierence of about ninety years. The Fuensalida report also provides a simple and eective explanation:
the Kanek met by Hernn Corts is the father of the Kanek met by the two friars (Cogolludo 1971

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 167

[1688], vol. 2: 234 [Lib. IX, Cap. 10], see below). The friars tried to convert Kanek and his people, but
the conversion the friars seeked was met by a simple but straightforward Itz prophecy:

Con gran atencion oyeron los indios la pltica que el padre comisario Fuensalida les hizo; pero por entnces
respondieron que no era llegado el tiempo de ser cristianos; (tienen profecas suyas de que lo han de ser) y que
as se volviesen su lugar de donde habian salido: que despues irian otra vez, porque entnces no querian ser
cristianos. Aunque les dieren esta repulsa, los acompaaron y llevaron ver al pueblo. [...] (Lpez de Cogolludo
1971 [1688], vol. 2: 230 [Lib. IX, Cap. 9]; emphasis mine).

This open refusal to conversion by the Itza is described in greater detail in yet another passage, which
clearly conveys the importance of the Maya prophecy. After a long explanation by Fuensalida about the
earlier conversion to Christianity in the time of Corts, the precise indigenous time period is given to
why the Itz refuse conversion:

Hzolos sentar en uno como forma de trono pequeo en que solia estar, y l se levant y puso en medio de
ellos. Platicaron estando as gran rato de las cosas de Dios, lo bien que haria en ser cristiano y aconsejar los
suyos que lo fuesen, pues lo habian prometido en tiempo de su padre D. Fernando Corts cuando pas por
all, y que mirase que los seores y caciques deben guardar su palabra, Que bien sabia, y tenia noticia de esto, y
que algunos de sus principales que recibieron Corts eran vivos, y que vieron la obediencia que su padre Canek
y todos los de la isla dieron al rey de los espaoles, hacindose sus vasallos. Que entnces se habia dicho misa all
en su tierra, y pidieron D. Fernando Corts el santo bautismo, diciendo querian ser cristianos, y qued una
cruz puesta en el pueblo en seal de ello. Que debian cumplir esta palabra, pues y era tiempo y los tenian all,
que para eso solamente habian ido. A esto respondi el Canek que no habia llegado el tiempo en que sus antiguos
sacerdotes les tenian profetizado que habian de dejar la adoracion de sus dioses, porque la edad en que estaban al
presente era la que ellos llaman oxahau (que quiere decir tercera edad), y que no se llegaba tan presto la que estaba
sealada. Pidiles que no tratasen por entnces mas de ello, que se volviesen al pueblo de Tep, y que en otra
ocasion irian su isla verlos. Con todo esto, fu el primero que recibi una cruz que le dieron, y despues de
l la recibieron otros indios. Diles permiso para que los dias que all estuviesen en su hospicio se cantase la
doctrina cristiana en sptimo tono como se acostumbra en esta provincia, y el que la cantaba los demas tuviese
una cruz en la mano. [...] (Lpez de Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 2: 234 [Lib. 9, Cap. 10]; emphasis mine).

According to the priests that Kanek had consulted, it currently was a period named oxahau or 3 Ahaw,
and according to the prophecies this was not the time to convert to Christianity. For this the friars should
return at another occasion. However, the Fuensalida report does not indicate when they should return
for nal conversion. Following the unsuccessful attempt at conversion Kanek and several of his followers
received crosses and the two friars were allowed to preach during the following days before they returned
to Tip (a.k.a. Tep).

The Fuensalida report also describes a second visit to the island village, but during that visit, in October
of 1619, not much progress was made. The two friars were expulsed and were lucky to escape with their
lives (Lpez de Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 2: 251-256 [Lib. IX, Cap. 13]). From the same report an-
other important passage is derived, providing insight into the origin of the Itz who lived in the central
Petn:

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168 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Estos indios itzaes son de nacimiento yucatecos, y originarios de esta tierra de Yucatan, y as hablan la misma
lengua maya que ellos. Dcese que salieron del territorio y jurisdiccion que hoy es de la villa de Valladolid, y del
pueblo de Chichen-Ytz donde hoy permanecen unos de los grandes edicios antiguos que se ven en esta tierra,
y tanto admiraron cuando se descubrieron estos reinos, como se dijo en otra parte, y tambien salieron con
ellos otros pueblos comarcanos. Dice el padre Fuensalida que cien aos antes que viniesen los espaoles estos
reinos, se huyeron de Chichen-Itz en la edad que llaman ellos octava, y en su lengua Uaxac Ahau, y poblaron
aquellas tierras donde hoy viven. Su fuga isla y partes tan escondidas fue sabiendo por las profecias que tenian, y
quedan referidas en el libro segundo, que habian de venir de las partes del oriente de una nacion que habia de
dominar esta tierra. Conservan hoy las profecias (escritas con sus caracteres antiguos) los que llaman sacerdotes
en un libro como historia que nombran analte. En ella conservan la memoria de cuanto les ha sucedido desde
poblaron aquellas tierras. [...] (Lpez de Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 2: 256-257 [Lib. IX, Cap. 14]; emphasis
mine).

This is a pivotal passage for the reconstruction of the history of the Itz. According to this passage the Itz
ed the city named Chichn Itz some one hundred years before the arrival of the Spaniards in a time
period named Uaxac Ahau or 8 Ahaw. This is the katun 8 Ahaw of circa A.D. 1441-1461, generally as-
sociated with the abandonment of Mayapn. This is the only katun 8 Ahaw placed about one hundred
years before the coming of the Spaniards. It seems that in that period still quite a large resident popula-
tion may have existed at Chichn Itz, which in whole or part migrated south. At present there is no
conclusive archaeological evidence available to posit a resident population of some (or any) considerable
size at Chichn Itz around the period of circa A.D. 1441-1461. This, however, does not mean that there
was no small resident population at that time in the city or its direct vicinity. The Spanish historiographer
Villagutierre connects the ight of the Itz from Chichn Itz with a story that, interestingly, involved a
character named Canek:

Unos de estos seores, rgulos, o caciques rebeldes, llamado Canek, a fuerza de la continua guerra que, como
los dems, dio a su rey, se alz con la provincia o territorio de Chichn Itz, que as se llamara antes, por el
pueblo muy grande y de muy levantados edicios que all haba, [...]. Y si antes no tena este nombre de Chi-
chn Itz, se le dara el mismo Canek, luego que en la rebelin se apoder de ella, quitndosela a su legtimo
rey, [...].
La causa o motivo, que les ocasion a retirarse, a desamparar su patria y a dejar el seor su reinezuelo o el
demonio de su provincia, y a los sbditos suyos a seguirle, han querido algunos decir que fue el eque estando
tratado de casarse otro de los rgulos de aquellas provincias, y llegado el da de los desposorios o bodas, que se
haban de celebrar con las ceremonias, regocijos, juegos y bailes de su usanza, y estando en la diversin de ellos,
otro reyezuelo convecino (que era sin duda el Canek de Chichn-Itz) el cual estaba enamorado de la seora
novia, no habiendo hallado otro modo de conseguirla, o considerndose despreciado, dio impensadamente y
sobre seguro, con muchos de los suyos armados, en los que, ajenos del menor cuidado, o recelo de tan extrao
y repentino suceso, atendan slo al mayor esmero de celebridad de la funcin. [...]
Todas las cosas que pueden tener cabimiento en la posibilidad, aunque no merezcan ser de todo punto
credas, tampoco deben ser absolutamente despreciadas, teniendo alguna aunque pequea autoridad para
apoyo de su verdad. Bien poda ser que la causa que movi a estos itzalanos, o chichn itzes, y a su rey, o seor,
a dejar su tierra y a retirarse a los montes, y fortalecerse y poblarse en las lagunas, islas y lugares naturalmente
defendidos, donde hoy se han hallado, fuese la que he referido; [...] (Villagutierre 1985[1701]: 70, 71-72 [Lib.
1, Cap. V]).

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 169

Most interesting to note is that a last king of Mayapn, according to Villagutierre and his unknown
source(s) (he gives no reference himself ), was named Kanek, who after a war took over Chichn Itz
(a literary version of this story on Kanek was later composed by Mediz Bolio [1980: 43-58]). A related
event described by Villagutierre involved a wedding ceremony and the robbery of the bride, after which
the ruler and inhabitants of Chichn Itz decided to ee. This event seems to be a combination of the
Hunnak Keel story in the chronicles (related to a katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1185-1204) and the Iza-
mal bride story, also involving Hunnak Keel, as detailed in a Yucatec Maya manuscript entitled The
Downing of the Triple Alliance (u hublil oxil nupthan) (cf. Dzul Poot 1987). This is a manuscript
of unknown date but according to its orthographic characteristics it probably was written down in the
eighteenth century (Barrera Rubio 1987: 63, in Dzul Poot 1987). This fact, the arranged wedding and
subsequent robbery of the bride, is connected by Villagutierre to the edad named 8 Ahaw, for which
he cites Cogolludo (Villagutierre 1985 [1701]: 70 [Lib. 1, Cap. V]), apparently the period of circa A.D.
1441-1461, some 100 years before the coming of the Spaniards.
At the time of the conquest of the Yucatn peninsula (circa A.D. 1527-1542), Chichn Itz was a city
in Cupul territory. Chichn Itz was chosen as the seat of a Ciudad Real by the Spaniards, following the
suggestion of the Chel Maya of the province of Ah Kin Chel (Chamberlain 1982 [1948]: 139). After
a short exploration of other parts of Yucatn, Montejo el Mozo (the Younger) and his army arrived at
Chichn Itz:

Despus de explorar por ah en esta forma, instruyndose durante todo este tiempo de mucho de lo descono-
cido respecto a Yucatn y su gente, los espaoles llegaron al n a las macizas ruinas de su objetivo esencial,
Chichn Itz. Cerca hallaron un pueblo , que aunque pequeo no era sino una lnguida sombra de la antigua
ciudad, que todava era un lugar de importancia poltica y militar entre los Cupul. El jefe de esta poblacin,
Nacon Cupul, recibi bien a los espaoles, probablemente en forma bastante diferente de lo que ellos haban
esperado, y llev a Montejo el Mozo a residir con l en su propia habitacin (Chamberlain 1982 [1948]: 140;
compare to Landa 1986: 23).

This passage may indicate that although Chichn Itz itself may not have been populated in its entirety
in the mid fteenth century, a small resident population may have been present in its direct environs, like
the town of the Cupul. Some time later Chichn Itz served as a Ciudad Real in A.D. 1532-1533. The
ruined site itself had become an important destination for religious practices and worship at least by the
sixteenth century, as, for instance, in the case of the 1537 Xiu expedition to Chichn Itz. At that time
the Xiu planned to bring oerings at the great cenote, to remedy a great drought and ensuing famine.
It was the custom to throw the oerings, human sacrices included, into the water of the great cenote
(Landa 1566: fol. 11r, 49v; Landa 1986: 25, 114; Tozzer 1941: 54-55, 179-180; cf. Boot 1988: 24). The
Xiu never arrived the Chichn Itz cenote as they were massacred by the Kokom.
In sum, as the Fuensalida report indicates, the Itz living at Tayasal were thus not native to the central
Petn area. This passage nds corroboration in several of the passages from the chronicles that described
the putative migrations to the Southern Maya Lowlands, beginning in a katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D.
928-948 to Chakanputn and continued in a katun 8 Ahaw at circa A.D. 1185-1204. In the Fuensalida
passage also the importance of the katun prophecies becomes clear. The Itz are said to have ed because
of their prophecies, although the precise contents of those prophecies is not revealed. Fuensalida further
reported that the prophecies were put to paper in a book escritas con sus caracteres antiguos that the
Itz called analte (tentatively, this item may be derived from the stems an to record; to exist and te

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170 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

tree, wood). In the work of Lizana information can be found which he collected through the reading
of ancient characters, to recapitulate:

La Historia, y Autores que podemos alegar, son unos antiguos Caracteres, mal entendidos de muchos, y glos-
sados de algunos Indios antiguos, que eran hijos de los Sacerdotes de sus Dioses, que son los que solo sabian leer
y adivinar, y a quien creian y reverenciavan los demas [...] (Lizana 1995 [1633]: 61 [fol. 5v]).

The prophecies to which Fuensalida alluded and which were held in high esteem at the court of Kanek
in the seventeenth century were in the ancient characters and may have been based on past events oc-
curring in dierent periods close to and possibly including the katuns 8 Ahaw of A.D. 672-692, A.D.
928-948, A.D. 1185-1204, as well as A.D. 1441-1461. Additional support of the Yucatecan ancestry of
the Itz can be found in the language they spoke. The Itz language belongs to the Yucatecan language
group and descended from Yucatecan Maya, from which it may have separated some ten centuries ago
(Hoing 1991: 1). In the Classic period of circa A.D. 300-900 the language(s) spoken in the central
Maya area, in which Lake Petn and the territories of the historical Itz were situated, belonged to the
Cholan language group, possibly the Eastern Cholan language group (cf. Houston, Robertson, and
Stuart 2000; Stuart, Houston, and Robertson 1999). If the Itz, of southern descent, indeed migrated
north into Yucatecan speaking territory it should be noted that a rare morphological trait of the Chichn
Itz inscriptions may direct to a southern origin (see Chapter 4, section 4.5).

The Visit of Avedao y Loyola (A.D. 1696) and the Final Conquest (A.D. 1697)

Between 1619 and 1695 several more expeditions were mounted with the explicit intention to nally
convert the inhabitants of the Itz territories (cf. Jones 1998: 43-59). In 1695 and 1696, Fray Andrs
de Avedao y Loyola made two trips to the Itz island capital, at that time referred to as Tayasal. Like
Taiza, as used by Corts, also Tayasal is an incorrect spelling or corruption of the Itz toponym *ti-
ah-itza-il at or of the Itz. For his rst trip Avedao y Loyola left Mrida on June 2, 1695. He and his
fellow missionaries never reached Tayasal and returned to Mrida on September 17, 1695 (Avedao y
Loyola 1996 [1696]: 1-20 [fol. 1r-17r]). For his second trip, Avedao y Loyola had in his possession im-
portant papers relative to the fulllment of the aforementioned prophecies and conversion to Christianity
of the Itz, mandated and signed by the interim governor and general captain of Yucatn, Cozumel, and
Tabasco, Don Martn Ursa y Arismendi (Avedao y Loyola 1996 [1696]: 21 [fol. 18r-18v]). The letter
with the original Maya text has not been found yet, but in the Archivo General de las Indias in Sevilla a
version of the Spanish translation signed by Ursa on December 8, 1695 has been found (AGI, Mxico
151 A, fol. 58r-61r, in Solis Robleda and Peniche 1996: 151-153). Departing from Mrida, this second
trip started on December 13, 1695, and lasted until April 6, 1696, when Avedao y Loyola returned to
Mrida.
The report by Avedao y Loyola contains many important details on the Itz and their ruler Kanek.
A summary version of this report, submitted as a declaration to the interim governor of Yucatn, has
recently been published (Solis Robleda and Peniche 1996: 160-167). The report, however, does not give
precise dates for all the events during their trip to Tayasal. According to Avedao y Loyola they arrived at
a small hamlet on the river Cademacal on January 13, 1696. Here they spent the night and the next day
they continued their trip to the village of Nich, on the shore of the lake (Avedao y Loyola 1996 [1696]:
31-32 [fol. 26r-27r]). Here Avedao y Loyola and his companions enjoyed a meal. Early in the afternoon

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 171

Avedao y Loyola met with the king Kanek and a large party of followers. After an initial introduction
and some frightful moments (including a near heart attraction, see Avedao y Loyola 1996 [1696]: 33-
34 [fol. 28r-28v]). They all went to the island by canoe and Avedao y Loyola and the Itz king went to
an important local shrine:

En esta forma llegamos a dicho adoratorio que tiene ms distrito que el saln del reyezuelo aunque en su fbrica
es lo mismo; [...] En n, saqu las cartas de la embajada y para que la oyeran, no cost poco trabajo, el que
se sentaran y callaran: hice parecer a todos los sacerdotes, que son maestros de la ley, a m presencia y a todos
los caciques, capitanes y principales de todas las parcialidades, de aquella isla o peten, y hacindolos sentar
por su orden junto al rey, entre sacndolos de la plebe, donde estaban, les comenc a leer, la embajada que el
gobernador por escrito enviaba, en nombre del rey nuestro seor. Y a pocos puntos que les haba ledo, viendo
ademanes, y poca atencin con que estaban, conoc, que no entendan lo que yo les le y habindoselo pregun-
tado respondieron estas palabras: Manucan a can tu dzot kanil caxicin. Que quiere decir: No entendemos
lo que hablas. Entonces dejando de leer la carta porque estaba (aunque en su idioma) ms corrupto, del estilo
antiguo, con que ellos hablan, el cual haba yo estudiado de propsito; y explicndoles dicha embajada, en
estilo antiguo, y entreverndoles una espiritual pltica, del bien que tendran con la amistad de los espaoles, y
recibir su ley, y el bien que recibiran sus almas recibiendo el santo bautismo, puerta primera a la nueva regen-
eracin, como para entrar a ver la cara de su criador y verdadero Dios, poderoso en toda parte, necesaria; sin
la cual, ablucin sus almas se perderan y todo lo cual fue explicado con algn fervor, mestrurndoles algunas
palabras, de sus profecas que les hacan pro tunc al caso. Oyronlo, gustosos, porque lo entendieron todo; y,
levantndonos todos para salir de dicho adoratorio (que ni en l, ni en los dems, hay dolos; porque, como he
dicho, lo tienen pblicamente en las calles), respondieron estas palabras: Cato vale; que es como si dijeran:
Pensaremos lo primero, que tiempo hay para responder agurdate. [...] (Avedao y Loyola 1996 [1696]:
37-38 [fol. 31r-32r]).

Avedao y Loyola explained to Kanek and his priests, in their ancient language (del estilo antiguo), the
fact that this was the time to receive the friendship and law of the Spaniards and to convert to Christian-
ity. Avedao y Loyola had to refrain from reading the letter in ancient Maya, as he was not well-under-
stood. This might indicate that there was a certain disjunction between the ancient Maya he used and
the Itz language the Itz at that time used. The ancient Maya language he used may have been Yucatec
Maya (as he was educated in Yucatn). The answer Avedao y Loyola sought, that this indeed was the
time according to their own prophecies, is described in more detail in the following passage:

A todo esto se hallaba presente el rey que jams nos desampar, de da, ni de noche asistiendonos a nuestro
lado, con dos otros sacerdotes parientes y amigos suyos, y todos los otros sacerdotes de cuendo en cuando,
particularmente esta primera noche, pues, despus de haber ido junta a otro adoratorio cercano, del que mor-
bamos y en el que tenan sus bailes, idolatras, y cantos las noches que ah estuvimos, llegume para ellos a ver lo
que hacan, y los hall a todos sentados en consulta, y otros que no eran sacerdotes estaban, a un lado de ellos,
cantando, y bailando. Levantronse los sacerdotes, al verme, y el que ms presto pudo, me dio su banquillo en
que l estaba sentado, para que yo me sentase. Sentme con ellos, un breve rato, y les pregunt: Qu era lo que
haban determinado responder a mi embajador? A que anticipndose el rey respondi por todos, las mismas
palabras de arriba: Catto, Cato vale: ahora ahora responderemos. Y hablando dicho rey, parte, conmigo, me
pregunt, qu es lo que yo quera saber? A que le respond: Saber si queris admitir la ley de Dios, y amistad de
los espaoles, que ayer os propuse; y si queris entrar a ser cristianos, segn os lo tiene profetizado, por unos profetas,
supuesto que no ignoris, es ya llegado el tiempo. A que me respondi el rey, con otros dos que con l estaban; que s

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172 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

queran ser cristianos, pero que no saban cmo haba ser, aquel modo de bautismo, que yo les haba explicado. [...]
(Avedao y Loyola 1996 [1696]: 39 [fol. 32v]; emphasis mine).

The next day, although at rst the Itz were afraid that baptism involved some sort of bloodletting,
Kanek had one of the children of one of his many relatives baptized. After observing that the procedure
was simple and not bloody, Kanek ordered the adults present to have their children baptized (Avedao
y Loyola 1696 [1996]: 40 [fol. 33v-34r]). That same day, other principals and caciques arrived at the
island:

[...] en dicho da comenzaron a venir navegando, por la laguna algunos de los gobernantes, capitanes y cabezas
de los otros cuatro petenes, o islas, con sus ociales de guerra, y sus insignias, como venablos y sus mojarras de
pedernal, de poco menos de una cuarta, de largo, y en un lugar de cintas, adornos dichos venablos, con plumas
de varios colores, muy vistosas, todas vueltas para abajo. Sal los yo a recibir por la cortesa, que debo, mas
los indios de aquel peten slo salan llevados, de la curiosidad de verlos llegar embijados, y emplumados, con
sus vestidos de guerra, pintados de negro sus rostros. Yo los abrazaba, y habalaba, con palabres suaves, y si me
hallaba con alguna cosa de comer de lo que all me daban; se los reparta a ellos, por recin llegados, hacindolos
sentar junto a m y al rey, que siempre estaba a mi lado. Con esto si tenan algn recelo, se lo ahuyentaban, o
si alguna clera o sentimiento de verme all, se serenaban, y luego les propona mi intento el cual admitieron
y recibieron buen; que era el ser amigos de los espaoles, y recibir su ley en cuya seal admisiva, bajaban sus
cabezas y que con el trato de las hachas y machetes, que de ellos recibiran, estaran contentos. [...] (Avedao y
Loyola 1996 [1696]: 41 [fol. 34r-34v]).

Avedao y Loyola specically relates how one of the principal caciques (a word of Caribean origin which
he uses quite often to refer to high ranking court ocials as well as to Kanek) named Kowoh (the manu-
script provides the spelling Covoh), the lord of the Chakan Itz, informed him (con una ngada risa)
that he and his people would like to surrender to the Spaniards. But Avedao y Loyola soon learned who
this Kowoh was:

Esto fue como a las cuatro de la tarde, sin haber comunicado al rey en que luego se fueron a casa de algn
condente suyo, y el rey vi que hizo poco caso de ellos, y fue porque, segn supe despus de boca del mismo
rey, eran sus enimigos. [...] (Avedao y Loyola 1996 [1696]: 41 [fol. 34v-35r]).

Now that all the principals of the Itz had gathered, it was Avedao y Loyola who presented his explana-
tion of the prophecies again and in far more detail, as described in the following passage:

Como a las siete de la noche volvieron los dichos, con los dems huspedes a orme parlar, al auge, retirados
de donde estuvieron primero, sin que yo los alcanzase a ver (aunque haca una luna tan clara como el da por
ser cera de posicin y estar raso del cielo) si bien, no falt quien me dio aviso de que me estaban oyendo;
y llegndome adonde estaban, con abrazos y caricias, los traje adonde estuvieron primero, dicindoles, que
deseaba, parlar con ellos, el modo de cantar [sic] a lo antiguo que usan, as de das, meses, aos, como de edades, y
saber, qu edad era el presente (que para ellos una edad slo consta de veinte aos) y qu profeca haba sobre dicho
ao y edad; que todo consta de unos libros de a cuarta de largo, y como cinco dedos de ancho, de cortezas de
rboles hechos, doblados a una banda y a otra, a manera de biombros con el grosor cada hoja del canto de un
real de ocho mexicano[s]. Estos estn pintados por una parte y otra con variedad de guras, y caracteres (de los
cuales usaron en su antigualla tambin los indios mexicanos) que indican no slo, la cuenta, de los dichos das,

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 173

meses y aos, sino las edades, y las profecas, que sus dolos, y simulacros, les anunciaron, o por mejor decir el demonio,
mediante el culto, que en unas piedras le tributan; son las edades en nmero trece; cada edad tiene su dolo distinto,
y su sacerdote, con distinta profeca, de sucesos; [...]
Hzose muy de nuevo el dicho cacique respondindome que no entenda de aquelas cuentas, mas yo, por
si era verdad lo que deca porque las entendiera, se las expliqu muy por menudo; y porque si las entenda, no
les torciese el sentido (como suelen) con algunas supersticiones; tom con mucho gusto el trabajo, de sentarme
muy despacio con ellos, habindose llegado a esta sazn el rey (que es el principal sacerdote y maestro de ellos)
con otros sacerdotes y maestros, que all se hallaban, ante todos los cuales, prosegu dicho trabajo con mayor
gusto, y fervor, para que all cotejramos a vista de todos, como ya era el tiempo cumplido (segn sus profetas)
de que entrasen a ser cristianos. Ajustlos tambin, ayudndome en su opinin el rey, y algunos sacerdotes; que con-
fesndose convictos, quedamos pactados, en que de all de all [sic] a los cuatro meses que faltaban para cumplir dicho
tiempo, recibiran el bautismo, todos los adultos; y que para que me satisfaciese de su verdad cumpliendo con la
promesa que antes me hicieron, de que si les pareca bien, como de facto les pareci; iban trayendo sus hijos,
a que recibiesen dicho bautismo y que si no tuvieran intencin de recibirlo tambin ellos, siendo ya el tiempo
de sus profecas cumplido, que ni trajeran a sus hijos, ni nos admitieran ellos. Y as, que sa era la respuesta
que daban a mi embajada, con la cual poda yo volver al gobernador que me enviaba, nterin que se pasaban
los dichos cuatro meses; despus de los cuales me esperaban, a cumplir el pacto hecho. [...] (Avedao y Loyola
1996 [1696]: 42-43 [fol. 35r-36r]; emphasis mine).

Avedao y Loyola, with his intimate knowledge of the indigenous calendar and prophecies tried to
persuade Kanek and the assembled priests to convert to Christianity, as the time had nearly come. The
specic time for conversion would come in four months, as Avedao y Loyola had calculated. As many
researchers have noted, Avedao y Loyola can be considered a Maya calendar and prophecy specialist.
He probably obtained his education on calendrical matters at the convent of the Franciscan Order in
Mrida, although this is only an educated guess. Nowhere in his report, however, it is stated which edad
or period would bring the conversion to Christianity, nor what kind of prophecy would bring about this
conversion. The Itz prophecy, alluded to by the Itz already in 1618, was interpreted in a Christian way
by Avedao y Loyola and would bring conversion to Christianity and submission to the Spanish Crown.
As Jones has suggested, Avedao y Loyolas attempt at the correct timing of conversion to Christianity
of the Itz and their peaceful submission to the Spanish Crown may have been instigated by Franciscan
interpretation and their subsequent millenarian thinking (Jones 1998: 12, 156-159, 176, 197, 206-210).
Although it is impossible to reconstruct the contents of the prophecy or prophecies in question, it is pos-
sible to calculate which edad Avedao y Loyola meant. The edad or period that Avedao y Loyola
invoked was a katun Ahaw period. The name of such period would open with a numeral and would be
followed by the day name Ahaw, like the katun period oxahau, as cited above in the report by Fuen-
salida. The reason why he did not mention the name of the katun Ahaw period involved may be that he
wrote his report for an educated audience who knew which katun Ahaw period was meant.

Between 1500 and 1717, these are the katun Ahaw periods, calculated with the current accepted cor-
relation constant between the Maya calendar and the Christian calendar. Here Gregorian dates will be
presented, as the Gregorian reform began to be adapted from October of A.D. 1582 onwards:

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174 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Gregorian Date katun Ahaw period

June 12, 1500 - February 27, 1520 2 Ahaw


February 28, 1520 - November 14, 1539 13 Ahaw
November 15, 1539 - August 1, 1559 11 Ahaw
August 2, 1559 - April 18, 1579 9 Ahaw
April 19, 1579 - January 3, 1599 7 Ahaw
January 4, 1599 - September 20, 1618 5 Ahaw
September 21, 1618 - June 7, 1638 3 Ahaw
June 8, 1638 - February 22, 1658 1 Ahaw
February 23, 1658 - November 9, 1677 12 Ahaw
November 10, 1677 - July 27, 1697 10 Ahaw
July 28, 1697 - April 14, 1717 8 Ahaw

It is evident from this table that Fuensalida and Orbita indeed were in the island village on Nohpetn
in a katun 3 Ahaw. The period 3 Ahaw had just begun. Interestingly, Fuensalida and Orbita were held
at the shore for eight days. Although speculative, their detention at the shore of the lake may have been
caused by the continuing ceremonies at the island village related to the change of katun 5 Ahaw to katun
3 Ahaw.

It less clear, however, how Avedao y Loyola calculated the coming of the new edad that would bring
conversion to Christianity of the Itz. If his itinerary is correct, he was at the island on January 14 and 15,
1696 (as he arrived at the shore of the lake on January 13), when he presented his interpretation of the
prophecies and his calculation of the edad that would bring conversion, in his words a los cuatro meses
que faltaban para cumplir dicho tiempo. This would mean about the middle of the month of May, 1696.
His calculation is o by more than a year, as the change from katun 10 Ahaw to 8 Ahaw would take place
on July 27-28, 1697. But why is his calculation o by more than a year? During his preparations Avedao
y Loyola must have studied the indigenous calendar in detail and maybe his source material provided a
dierent calculation. Some time ago Bricker suggested the following on this subject:

In one of the chronicles of the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Bishop Francisco Torals arrival in Yucatan
in 1562 is correlated with the sixth tun (360-day year) of Katun 9 Ahau (Roys 1933: 143). If this correlation
is correct, then it means that the year 1618 fell approximately two years after the beginning of Katun 3 Ahau.
Counting forward from 1616, the year Katun 3 Ahau supposedly began, we can calculate the beginning of the
next Katun 8 Ahau, which should have been in 1695. The fact that 1695 was the year that the Itza sent word
of their willingness to be converted (Embajada de los Itzaes 1845; Avedao y Loyola 1696: 139) lends support
to this reasoning (Bricker 1981: 23; emphasis in original).

While Brickers calculation itself is correct, it still does not explain why Avedao y Loyola calculated the
middle of the month of May of the year 1696 as the time of the change of katun 10 Ahaw to 8 Ahaw. As
researchers are unfamiliar with the original material on which Avedao y Loyola based his calculations
(it might have included the works by Lizana and Cogolludo as well as their original source material, thus
including original hieroglyphic books and Yucatec Maya transcripts) and as his own work on the subject
entitled Explicacin de varios vaticinios de los antiguos Indios de Yucatan is considered to be lost (Roys
1933: 184, note 1), this will remain a mystery for some time to come.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 175

According to his own writing Avedao y Loyola reached an agreement with Ah Kanek on conversion to
Christianity and submission to the Spanish Crown and drafted a letter referring to such matter, dated
to January 16, 1696 (Avedao y Loyola 1996 [1696]: 53-54 [fol. 43v-44r]). Through the rising animos-
ity between Kanek and Kowoh, eventually Avedao y Loyola and his companions were forced to ee
Tayasal and after a long and perilous journey returned to Mrida in April of 1696 (Avedao y Loyola
1996 [1696]: 56-76 [fol. 46r-66r]). In Mrida he learned that a messenger from Kanek, who bore the
name Chan, had arrived at Mrida in December of 1695, only a short time after he himself had left for
Tayasal. This messenger had been received by the interim governor Don Martn Ursa y Arismendi and
the message he had brought was one of allegiance by Kanek and all of his subjects. Chan was a nephew
of Kan Ek; he was later baptized and christened Don Martn Francisco Chan and became a godson to
Ursa y Arismendi (Jones 1998: 224).

There was no conversion to Christianity, nor a peaceful submission to the Spanish Crown as Avedao
y Loyola had hoped for. Specic measures were even taken that had to lead to the military conquest of
the island capital (cf. Boot 1997a; Jones 1994a, 1998). Martn Chan became an important gure in the
events leading up to the eventful conquest of Nohpetn in March of 1697. On March 10, 1697, he made
a declaration before Ursa y Arismendi. The opening question and his answer follow here:

Preguntado cmo se llama, qu edad y ocio tiene, de dnde es vecino y natural y como dice ser cristiano en
qu parte fue bautizado y cundo. Dijo llamarse don Martn Chan, natural del Petn grande en que est el rey,
hijo de Chan natural del Tip y de Cant hermana mayor de Canek que gobierna estos sitios. Y que a su padre
lo pic una culebra de que muri y que su madre oy decir vino de Chichem Itz [sic] y que tambin es difunta
mucho ha, y que se ha cristianizado un ao ha en la ciudad. (...) (Declaracin ante Martn de Ursa de Martn
Chan, ..., Laguna del Itz, 10 de marzo de 1697. AGI, Mxico 151 Bis, fol. 18v-523r. Transcription in Solis
Robleda and Peniche 1997: 168; emphasis mine).

The declaration that Martn Chan presented, again, relates how certain Itz were said to come from Chi-
chn Itz (for a nearly word-for-word copy of this declaration, cf. Villagutierre 1985 [1701]: 420 [Lib. 8,
Cap. IV]). It is, however, humanly impossible for his mother to have come from this site, if the migra-
tion took place in a katun 8 Ahaw some hundred years before the arrival of the Spaniards (as described
by Fuensalida). It is more probable that she descended from Itz who had come to the lake area from
Chichn Itz in that earlier period.
The following days were lled with preparations of the small army headed by Don Martn Ursa y
Arismendi (cf. Boot 1997a; Jones 1998). The nal conquest took place on March 13, 1697. On this day,
in the early morning, Ursa y Arismendi sailed for Tah Itz, with him nearly 200 men and his godson
Don Martn Chan. According to the chronicler Dr. Don Francisco de Elorza y Rada the following hap-
pened on this day, described in a long passage cited here in full:

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176 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

CAPITULO XIX

LA TOMA DE LA ISLA

Bendixo la Galeota, y la Pyragua el Vicario Don Juan Pacheco; y al acabar de Bendicirlas, se vi sobre las
ondas de las aguas venir a encontrase con la Galeota una Estampa de papel del glorioso Apostel San Pablo: la
qual facada del agua, le fue entregada en su mano el General Ursua; y or este prodigio, se le puso a la Galeota
el nombre de San Pablo. Embarcse en ella con ciento, y ochenta Espaoles; y en su compaia el Sobrino del
Rey, el Vicario Don Juan de Pacheco, y su Theniente, dexando guarnecido el Real por la orilla de la Laguna con
piezas de Artilleria, Pedreros, y Esmeriles, y ciento y veinte y siete Soldados con los Indios, y Gatsadores, todos
armados a cargo del Theniente Don Fransisco Corts, y por segundo Cabo DonDiego del Rio. Al descubrirse
el Sol, iba navegando la Galeota para a fuera en drechura al Peten grande; y el Vicario dixo, se tuviesse silencio,
y encomendassen el successo de la jornada a nuestra Seora de los Remedios. Acabado el rezo de una Salve, le
bantaron la voz, diziendo Viva la Ley de Dios: Motivlese el Vicario al arrepentimiento de sus culpas, y en voz
alta hech la Absolucion: con lo qual prosiguieron la navegacion a remo.
Dieron vista a una Canoa, que iba al Peten, que se tuvo por ctinela; y en breve descubrieron otras Canoas
tendidas en ala con Indios prevenidos con aparatos de guerra.
Mas sin hazerles caso passaron adelante al Peten grande, que se descubria con innumerables Indios, preve-
nidos con aparatos de guerra, alcanzandose a ver tambien las otras Islas coronadas de gente.
Los de las Canoas cerraban la retaguardia a los nuestros, cercandolos entre la tierra, y las Canoas. Aqui (a
no llevar la causa de Dios por guia) pudieron aterrarse los Espaoles a vista de innumerables Gentiles, deman-
dados con orgullo, e insolencia, disparando de tierra, y agua gran cantidad de echas, viendo los nuestros, no
se aprovechaban de las Armas.
Atendia el General a los vnos, y los otros; reconocia en los Barbaros la intolerable audacia; y en sus Capi-
tanes, y Soldados la colera reprimida. Protestaba en nombre del Rey, y de ellos los daos y las muertes. Bien
lo oan: pero nada aprovechaba: porque respondian con excesibo numero de Saetas, que casi llegaban a la
Galeota, y vna le entr en vn brazo al Sargento Juan Gonalez, y otra toc a Bartholom Duran Soldado. En-
tonces arrebatados de impaciencia, olvidados de las Ordenes en despique rompieron el nombre, y dispararon,
y a imitacion suya se arrojaron los mas al agua, para salir a tierra con estruendo de Arcabuzeria, nunca oda de
los Barbaros. No fue necessario disparar el tiro de Crugia, conque huvieran muerto, y destrozado multitud de
Indios, cogiendolos a boca de Caon: Vastando el estruendo de las Escopetas a ponerlos en precipitada fuga,
desamparando los puestos, y la Isla, arrojandose al agua, desde el Rey a lo menor creatura, que era capaz de
poder passar a tierra rme. No se vi tal confusion! Ygual era el pabor de los Flecheros de las Canoas con los de
la tierra: pues al mesmo tiempo soltaron los remos, y las Armas, y se arrojaron a la agua, no viendose otra cosa
por la Laguna, que cabezas de Hombres, Mugeres, y Muchachos, nadando como peces.
Quedo despoblada la Isla, y los nuestros fueron entrando el Peten arriba. Subia el primero el General Ursua
con su Espada, y Rodela en mano. Hizo plantar el Estandarte Real, donde estaban grabadas las Santas Imagenes
de la Virgen nuestra Seora con el Nio Jesus, y las Armas Reales, en lo alto de vna Casa, la mas leventada,
que alli avia: y en otras partes se pusieron las Vanderas. Dieron gracias a Dios de la Victoria: vnos a otros
repetidas enorabuenas: y el General expressaba generosas congratulaciones a los Cabos Subalternos, Padres,
Curas, y demas gente, del gran valor, constancia, y f, con que se avian portado en faccion, y empressa tan
sumamente peligrosa, y afortunada. Y acabadas las vrbanidades, y ternuras, viendose los nuestros dominando
la Isla, y todas las Campaas y Territorios de los Petenes, conseguida la Principal Forteleza: Lo primero puso el
General nombre de Nuestra Seora de los Remedios, y de San Pablo a la Isla. Luego di orden, que se dividiessen
los Capitanes, y Soldados en partidas con sus ociales, para registrar los Adotorios, y Casas de Idolatria, y se

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 177

deshiziessen los Idoles. Lo qual se execut, y elegi el mayor Adoratorio para Templo, y Casa de Adoracion del
verdadero Dios.

CAPITULO XX

El siguiente dia desseoso el General Ursua de dar passos adelante en tan prosperos embites de su fortuna: con-
siderando, podrian rehazerse de aquellos ignorados terrenos otros Indios, con los que passaron a tierra rme
desde la Isla, e intentar recuperar con el acuerdo, o la astucia lo que pediero con el susto, espanto: para ocurir a
todo, convenia tomar possession de la Isla en nombre de su Magestad: Junto la gente, y baxando el Estandarte
Real, le tom en su mano, y dixo estas palabras: Seores, aunque su Magestad (que Dios guarda) es Rey, dueo,
y Seor absoluto de esta Isla de nuestra Seora de los Remedios, y San Pablo de Ytza, y de las otras sus adjacentes,
Pueblos, Lagunas, y Territorios; a mayor abundamiento en nombre de su Magestad, DON CARLOS SEGUNDO
(que Dios guarde) tom possession, Real actual y sin contradiccion alguna de ella, y todas las demas, sus Pueblos, y
Tierras, que han estado baxo la obediencia del Rey CaneK, que la ha desamparado, sin que se le aya hecho, hasta
agora dasio alguno.
Acabado aquel Acto, bolvise el Estandarte a donde estuvo puesto. El Vicario General por lo que tocaba el
Reverendissimo Obispo de Yucatan, y a su noble Clero, tom tambien possession de las Doctrinas, que huvi-
esse en aquellas tierras, y en seal de ella, se cubri de vna Sobrepelliz, Estola, y Bonete. Bendixo el Agua, y el
Adotorio grande, mundicando de la sangre de los Sacricios Gentilicos, y colocado un lieno con la Egie de
nuestra Seora de los Remedios, celebr el Santo Sacricio de la Missa, y los Ocios de aquel dia, assistiendo
los Espaoles a los actos (Elorza y Rada 1930 [1714]: 262-267, italics in original; for a better understanding of
this long text all f for s in the original printed text have been replaced).

Thus on March 13, 1697, the island capital on Nohpetn was conquered. As shown above, the change of
katun 10 Ahaw to katun 8 Ahaw would take place on July 27-28, 1697 (Gregorian). A few months short
of this timing, the island capital of Tah Itz fell into the hands of Spanish soldiers. While the forceful and
violent conquest of Tah Itz took place in March of 1697 in the Americas, the year 1697 is also of impor-
tance in European history. On September 20, 1697, the so-called Peace Treaty of Rijswijk was signed,
which arranged the peace between France, Holland, and England after a period of war lasting nine years
(cf. Chandali and Huitsing 1997; Rodenburg 1947).
In the days and weeks following the nal conquest of Tayasal, many Itz were taken captive, among
them Ah Kanek, his son Ixkin Kanek, and the priest Kin Kanek. They were interrogated by Ursa y
Arismendi himself and their testimonies and declarations were written down. On March 31, 1697, Ah
Kanek appeared before a council of interpreters and several Spanish captains. In the company of Chamay
Xul, lord of the nearby town of Yalain, Kin Kanek, and several other Itz, Ah Kanek was asked the
following questions to which he presented the respective answers:

Preguntado cmo se llama, qu edad y qu ocio tiene, de dnde es vecino y natural. Dijo llamarse Canek,
que su edad no sabe decir y por su aspecto al paracer tendr cuarenta y cinco aos y que es rey y seor de este
Petn y sus territorios, nacido y avecinado en l. Y esto responde. Preguntado si hay otro rey dems de l y quin
sea. Dijo que l era solamente el rey y seor natural. Y esto responde. Preguntado que cmo se le da ttulo de
rey al Kin Canek. Dijo que a todos sus sacerdotes les llaman reyes y que ste por serlo y ser primo hermano
suyo le llaman rey, pero que l es el legtimo. Y esto responde. Preguntado si este seorio lo ha heredado de sus
antecesores. Dijo que s, y desde que vinieron de Chichen Itz sus ascendientes obtienen dicho seoro. Y esto
responde. Preguntado que cmo don Martn Chan dijo haber cuatro reyes no siendo ms que l solo seor

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178 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

natural. Dijo que los otros se llaman reyes por ser de su sangre y tener algn mando y seoro. Y esto reponde.
Preguntado si es casado y si tiene hijos y cuntos. Dijo que es casado y se llama su mujer Chan Pana, y que
tiene dos hijos, uno varn y el otro hembra. Y esto responde. [...] (Declaracin del rey Canek. Petn del Itz,
31 de marzo de 1697, AGI, Mxico 151 A Bis, fol. 539r-542v. Transcription in Solis Robleda and Peniche
1997: 191).

This declaration contains an important piece of information that corroborates an earlier observation by
Fuensalida. According to Ah Kanek his ancestors not only came from Chichn Itz but sus ascendientes
obtienen dicho seoro. The fact that his ancestors came from Chichn Itz provided legitimacy to his
rule and that of his ancestors. The Itz, by mouth of Ah Kanek and Martn Chan, were not the only
Maya who claimed descent and derived legitimacy from an important site in the Northern Maya Low-
lands. A later report by the Spanish captain Don Marcos de Abalos y Fuentes provides information on
the ancestry of the Kowoh, the enemies of the Itz:

Los Kowoh son casi uno y lo mismos que los Itz porque ellos estaban situados al norte de las orillas de su lago
(Petn Itz). Algunos de ellos son originalmente de Yucatn, los Itzaes de Chichn Itz y los Kowoh de Tancah,
10 o 12 leguas de esta ciudad (Mrida). Ellos (los Kowoh) se retiraron (de acuerdo con lo que ellos dicen) al
tiempo de la conquista, y los otros (los Itzes) ms temprano (Abalos y Fuentes 1704, in Jones 1996: 11; cited
by Rice, Rice, and Pugh 1998: 213).

The toponym Tancah seems to refer to the city of Mayapn, indeed located some 10 to 12 miles (le-
guas) south of Mrida (Rice, Rice, and Pugh 1998: 213). This identication can be corroborated as, for
instance, in the Third Chumayel Chronicle the combination tancah mayapan (MS 80, line 3) can be
found, while the Man Chronicle provides tan cah mayapan (MS 136, line 13). In the Chilam Balam
of Chumayel the Kowoh are referred to as the guardians of the east gate at Mayapn (Roys 1933: 69;
Gordon 1913: MS 4, lines 3-4, Couoh : yah canul : volpa til lakin [the] Kowoh are the guardian of the
gate in the east). Both the declaration by Kanek and the report by Abalos y Fuentes thus connect the
inhabitants and the leaders of the last independent Maya kingdom to two of the most important cities in
the Northern Maya Lowlands, namely Chichn Itz (through Kanek) and Mayapn (through Kowoh)
(cf. also Jones 1998: 16; Pugh 2001: 5-6, 135 & 2003: 408-410).

All the Itz were introduced to the catholic faith and received, after baptism, their new names. King of
all Itz, Ah Kanek received the name Don Joseph Pablo Canek (Elorza y Rada 1930 [1714]: 273; Jones
1998: 344). Later, after two years of imprisonment, in May of 1699 they were taken to the city of San-
tiago de Guatemala (the present-day town of Antigua), but during the perilous journey, Kin Kanek
(now named don Francisco Nicols) died at the hands of a Spanish soldier. After arrival on June 28
of 1699, Ah Kanek was placed under house arrest for the rest of his natural life (Jones 1994a: 8). On
October 4 of that year he was rebaptized and transferred to the boarding house of a certain Antonio de
Andino y Arze. He remained in this house until at least late 1704 or early 1705 (Jones 1998: 375-376).
It was here in Santiago de Guatemala, far from his homeland, that Don Joseph Pablo Canek, last king of
the Itz, died at an unknown age.
The subsequent pacication of the former Itz territories did not take place as easy as the Spanish
colonial government had expected (Jones 1989: 269-270). One specic plot surfaced in the province of
Chakan Itz. According to Joseph Fernndez de Estenos, the Chakan Itz leader named Ah Kowoh was
in the process of organizing a pan-regional uprising. He arrested Ah Kowoh, who confessed, and had him

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 179

executed on July 8, 1697 (Jones 1998: 336, cf. Jones 1994a: 8). This revolt, as it would seem, was exactly
planned in the month of July 1697 that would see the turn from katun 10 Ahaw to katun 8 Ahaw (see
above list of calculation for the consecutive katuns between 1500 and 1717).

2.4 Final Remarks and Conclusions

In this chapter rst a short summary of previous studies on the identity and historical role of the Itz in
Maya research was provided. In this older research (Thompson 1954, 1966, 1970; Tozzer 1930, 1957)
the Itz are assigned quite a marginal role in history. They are either included among or identied as
Putn Maya (according to Thompson) who lived in the marginal areas on the western frontier of the
Classic Maya area or they are a small unimportant group from the south (according to Tozzer) to which
not much activity in Northern Yucatn can be assigned. Both Thompson and Tozzer made use of pas-
sages from the chronicle and prophecy sections in the Books of Chilam Balam as well as a host of colonial
Spanish language sources. It is in these sources that the Itz gure prominently, especially in the chronicle
sections of the Books of Chilam Balam. According to these chronicles the Itz were clearly not native
inhabitants of northern Yucatn.
In recent years there has been a new appreciation and interpretation of the dating of the dierent
katun Ahaw periods on which the chronicles are based. This new interpretation largely stems from the
decipherment of specic collocations in Classic Maya hieroglyphic texts that provide the toponym itza
and the nominal or hereditary title kanek or chanek. Through the incorporation of historical data from
both the Southern as well as the Northern Maya Lowlands a new chronology for the Maya area was
recently presented in which the Itz obtained a more prominent role (cf. Schele, Grube, and Boot 1998;
Schele and Mathews 1998). Based on the above analysis the following items containing itza can now be
identied (SML = Southern Maya Lowlands, NML = Northern Maya Lowlands):

Item Area Period Class

Inscriptions
[i]tza-a SML A.D. 550-900 toponym
[i]tza SML A.D. 550-900 toponym
[i?]tza-a NML A.D. 650-1000 toponym
[i?]tza NML A.D. 650-1000 toponym
Colonial Sources
chichheen ytza NML A.D. 650-1450 toponym
ah ytzaob NML A.D. 650-1450 ethnonym
ytza uinicob NML A.D. 650-1450 ethnonym
itzalanos NML A.D. 650-1450 ethnonym
alquin ytza NML A.D. 1579 title incorporating itza
Ajia SML A.D. 1636 ethnonym
Taiza SML A.D. 1525-1700 toponym/etnonym
Itzaes SML A.D. 1525-1700 ethnonym
Present-day Sources
itzamaac NML A.D. 1970-1980 ethnonym

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180 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

The item itza in general functions straightforward as a toponym and can be modied as itza ahaw itza
king, ah itza he/person of itza, or chichheen ytza mouth of the well of itza . Thus even the item
itza in chichheen ytza may be toponymic and may refer to a larger area in the Northern Maya Lowlands
once known as itza. The fact that the inx i in the examples [i?]tza(-a) at Chichn Itz itself are not
secure means that these identications are still very tentative. Colonial sources, both in Yucatec Maya as
Spanish, do clearly indicate that the discoverers, founders, and inhabitants of Chichn Itz were named
the Itz. The toponym Taiza is sometimes used to refer to the Itz (e.g. Valenzuela 1979 [1695]: 29
[fol. 17v]). Some present-day stories refer to the former inhabitants of Chichn Itz as the itzamaac or
Itz people (ma[a]k) (cf. Burns 1983: 78, note 7 & 2002: 661). Also the examples of the hieroglyphic
spellings for chanek/kanek were analyzed, which combined with the later examples of Kanek comprise
the following list:

Item Area Found at Period

Inscriptions
FOUR-e-ke SML Pusilh ca. A.D. 593-594
FOUR-e-ke SML Xultn (?) ca. A D. 750-900
SKY-na e ke SML Xultn (?) ca. A.D. 750-900
SKY-na e ke SML Xultn (?) ca. A.D. 750-900
Serpent with Star Signs
(iconography) SML Xultn ca. A.D. 750-900
SKY-na-STAR SML Yaxchiln ca. A.D. 766
SKY-STAR SML Yaxchiln ca. A.D. 766
SERPENT-na-STAR NML Ek Balam ca. A.D. 770
SKY.BIRD-STAR NML Ek Balam ca. A.D. 814
FOUR-[e]ke SML Seibal ca. A.D. 830
FOUR-[e]ke SML Seibal ca. A.D. 849
SERPENT-STAR NML Chichn Itz ca. A.D. 864-881
SKY-na-STAR NML Chichn Itz ca. A.D. 880

Colonial Sources
Canek NML Mayapn/Chichn Itz ca. A.D. 1441-1461
Canec SML Tayasal ca. A.D. 1524-1525
Canek SML Tayasal ca. A.D. 1618-1619
Canek SML Tayasal ca. A.D. 1695-1697
(note 47)

In this chapter a most recent proposal on the reconstruction of a chronology of events involving the
Itz in both the Southern as the Northern Maya Lowlands was presented. My research ndings were
presented in three sections, each dedicated to a specic time period and region:

the Southern Maya Lowlands, ca. A.D. 550-900;


the Northern Maya Lowlands, ca. A.D. 650-1450;
the Southern Maya Lowlands, ca. A.D. 900-1700

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 181

In the rst section the dierent examples of collocations that can be transliterated as itza and chanek/
kanek were discussed. After providing an overview of the geographical distribution of both itza and
chanek/kanek, which could not provide conclusive evidence on the extent of a Classic Maya itza territory,
there followed an in-depth analysis of important local events carved in a specic regional iconographic
style that may have began at Dos Pilas-Aguateca and which was adapted and transformed at sites as Ma-
chaquil, Ucanal, Xultn, and Seibal. The origin and the evolution of this particular iconographic tradi-
tion at these important sites is closely related with the occurrences of itza and chanek/kanek. Based on
the geographical distribution of itza, chanek/kanek, and additional nominal phrases and certain epithets
(hun tzak tok, siyah kin chak, bob, ah balun habtal) a relatively large region in the central, southern,
eastern, as well as southeastern parts of the Southern Maya Lowlands was proposed that may once have
been known as itza. The particular location of this area named itza also indicates that the people living in
this area in the Early and Late Classic period spoke a language belonging to the group of Southern Maya
Lowland languages, a language thus in the (eastern) Cholan group of languages.

In the second section selected passages from the ve chronicles contained in the Books of Chilam Balam
were introduced that provided detailed information on the Itz. Through the analysis of these passages,
introduced in the original Yucatec Maya version and my English translation, my most recent proposal on
the origin of the Itz and their role in northern Yucatn and at Chichn Itz in specic was described. In
this presentation a combination was made of chronological information from the chronicles with similar
information from other sources, such as colonial Spanish language sources as well as the inscriptions of
Chichn Itz. Also an analysis was provided on the dating of the iconographic style as employed in the
sculpture and architecture at Chichn Itz, which for many years has been interpreted as being Toltec
and which was introduced from the central Mexican highlands into Chichn Itz. The iconographic
style as employed at Chichn Itz can be interpreted, as I contend, as the local and northern variant of
an iconographic tradition that originated in the Southern Maya Lowlands from Dos Pilas-Aguateca,
through Machaquil, and nally Seibal, Ucanal, and Xultn. The iconographic style at Chichn Itz,
based on dated monuments associated with this iconography, can be dated to a period of circa A.D. 830-
1000. Chichn Itz is thus largely contemporary with sites as Seibal, Ucanal, and Xultn in the south
and its iconographic tradition is clearly rooted in its Classic Southern Maya Lowland past (compare to
Miller 1993: 410-411). The presence of central Mexico derived architecture and iconography, which is
fully integrated into the building programs at Chichn Itz, especially on its Great Plaza, will be discussed
in the next chapter.
The chronicles provided information that an area named the mouth of the well of Itz was discov-
ered in a period covering katuns 8 Ahaw to 4 Ahaw, or circa A.D. 672-731 after which the actual city
was founded. Those who discovered this area and founded the city were the Itz. The chronicles also
provided information on the (partial) abandonment and resettlement of groups of Itz at other locales at
dierent time periods, but generally associated with a katun 8 Ahaw. As such it became apparent, as many
researchers had found before, that the pivotal events in the history of the Itz of discovery, abandon-
ment, and taking possession are related to consecutive periods named katun 8 Ahaw. This particular
association of these pivotal events are not seen as an outright fabrication with no true historical meaning
or background, but as a kind of associative historical framework in which pivotal but related historical
events are assigned to larger periods within a calendrical setting that is highly repetitive. Other sources
do provide information which seems to corroborate this contention and the events, highly structured
to a selective time table favoring katun periods named 8 Ahaw as they are, indeed happened. More

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182 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

importantly, the events did happen in or close to these periods named katun 8 Ahaw. As such the taking
possession of Chakanputn is dated to a period named katun 8 Ahaw at A.D. 928-948, the taking
possession of Mayapn and Tan Xuluk Mul in a period named katun 8 Ahaw at A.D. 1185-1204, and
the abandonment of Mayapn in a period named katun 8 Ahaw at A.D. 1441-1461.

In the third section archaeological data from the Tayasal-Paxcamn area in the Southern Maya Lowlands
was presented that seem to underwrite the introduction of large groups of migrants from the north to
the south by way of population estimates. These estimates were proposed before the rst recent proposal
of Itz migrations were presented. Independent of the exact number of people living at a given period or
phase, there are thus good indications for sharp population decreases and increases in the central area of
the Southern Maya Lowlands.
In this section further information was presented on the events leading up to the nal conquest of
the Itz territory, from the visit of Corts in 1525 to the visit by Avedao y Loyola in 1696, as well as to
the nal conquest of the island Nohpetn on March 13, 1697. Several sources provide information that
the Itz inhabitants of the central zone of the Southern Maya Lowlands claimed descent from migrants
who came from Chichn Itz. Also the migration of these people is associated with a period named katun
8 Ahaw that can be dated to A.D. 1441-1461. The nal conquest of Nohpetn itself is also related to a
period named katun 8 Ahaw that can be dated to A.D. 1697-1717.

These three large sections on the Itz indicate that in the Classic period there indeed were people living in
an area that was situated in the Southern Maya Lowlands and which was named itza. In that same period
several people of high social status (ahaw king, kuhul ahaw god-like king), in general associated with
this particular area named itza, bore the nominal phrase or hereditary title chanek/kanek. Those who
bore this name or hereditary title may have been itza people, based on the fact that the item Kanek (as
it pronounced in the Itz language) is intimately associated with the historical Itz of Nohpetn. These
people migrated north in several groups during and after periods of warfare, in which one should keep
an open mind to other as well as additional demographic and environmental reasons to migrate. In the
north they founded the city of Chichn Itz and after several centuries groups started to remigrate to the
south, rst to Chakanputn and later to Tan Xuluk Mul and possibly Oxkin Kiwik. These migrations
to the south consisted of Itz people who did not speak a Southern Maya Lowland (eastern Cholan)
language anymore, but who, after centuries of linguistic adaption, did speak a Northern Maya Lowland
language, i.e. a language directly related to Yucatec Maya. The rst indications of this linguistic adaption
can be found in the inscriptions at Chichn Itz (see Chapter 4). Also Chichn Itz experienced a drastic
population decline and in the north a new city was founded named Mayapn. After nearly three centuries
also this city experienced its decline and nal fall about a century before the coming of the Spaniards.
After that, the Itz maintained a powerful political territory in the Southern Maya Lowlands, which was
rst visited by Corts in 1525 and which was nally conquered in 1697.

The pivotal events and their associated time periods are summarized in the following list:

Katun 8 Ahaw Event Recorded Location

A.D. 672-692 discovery Chichn Itz


A.D. 928-948 abandonment Chichn Itz
taking possession / seizure Chakanputn

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 183

A.D. 1185-1204 abandonment Chakanputn


taking possession / seizure Tan Xuluk Mul
taking possession / seizure Mayapn
A.D. 1441-1461 abandonment Mayapn
abandonment Chichn Itz
A.D. 1697-1717 Spanish conquest Nohpetn-Tayasal

As has been noted before, these katun periods named 8 Ahaw refer to an idealized cyclical time sequence
in which events close to these katun periods became either placed into or were intimately connected with
these periods.

In the next chapter a proposal will be presented on the interpretation of the so-called arrival of
Kukulkn, which is of great importance in the history of the Itz in general and Chichn Itz in spe-
cic. It is this arrival of Kukulkn that is commonly associated with architecture derived from central
Mexico.

End Notes
1) During the XXVIth Texas Maya Meetings in Austin, Texas (March 9-10, 2002), Simon Martin presented a new and provocative
interpretation of tok pakal as a reference to those who carry these weapons. In previous studies tok pakal was interpreted as an
object, literally int-shield, being the penultimate emblem of war (cf. Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993). Based on the occurrence
of the titles ba(h)tok rst or head int and ba(h)pakal rst or head shield (see note 7) Martin concluded that tok pakal may
thus refer to those who carry the tok int and the pakal shield, i.e. an army.
2) The period of the so-called hiatus at Tikal is still not well-understood. New archaeological and epigraphic research seems to show
that in this period temples were constructed (Temple V, cf. Mesoweb 2002) and stelae were erected (Stela 8, now dated to 9.7.0.0.0,
7 Ahaw *3 Kankin and planted by Kinich Waw a.k.a. Animal Skull; Guenter, e-mail dated November 23, 2001) (see note 25).
3) Recently a third reference to itza has been identied by Nikolai Grube in an inscription in the Southern Maya Lowlands.
Apparently a collocation spelling [i]tza can be found in the inscription on a stela at the site of Nadzcaan, a site that forms part of
the archaeological project of the Calakmul Biosphere (cf. Garca Cruz 1993; Carrasco and Wolf 1996). No analysis of this example
can be presented here, as a drawing or photograph of the hieroglyphic text is not available (personal communication by Grube to
Vo, cf. Vo 1999: 4), while Grube doubts the correctness of his original identication (personal communication, December 12,
2000). Possibly a fourth itza collocation may be found on an Ik site ceramic vessel currently on exhibition at the Museum of Art,
San Antonio, Texas (cataloged as Kerr No. 3054). This vessel contains two short captions providing information on the identity of
the scribes who dedicated the painted text. One caption reads u-tzib-a(l) tubal ahaw (it is) the writing of the Tubal king (Tubal
may be the archaeological site of Nakum; Guenter, personal communication via e-mail, November 23, 2001), the other caption
may read u-tzib-a(l) ix(ik) itza() (u-tzi-ba IX-[i?]tza) (it is) the writing of the lady from itza(). The part itza() is written as
[i?]tza, but doubt remains on the inxed syllabic sign for i as unfortunately this part of the caption has lost pertinent detail due to
a surface break (I thank Mike McBride for providing a detailed digital photograph of this section of the San Antonio vase during
the long workshop as part of the XXVth Texas Maya Meetings, March 2001). The so-called Ik site ceramics are named after the
Emblem Glyph of Motul de San Jos that occurs in its painted hieroglyphic texts (the main sign of this Emblem Glyph is T503,
the sign for the second day named Ik). As shown in the main text, Motul de San Jos Stela 1 does record the title kuhul itza()
ahaw.
4) The PSS on Kerr No. 4387 can be tentatively transcribed as a-LAY-ya ?-?-yi u-tzi-bi-na-ha yu-KA?-bi ti-u-lu and transliterated
as a-lay (tab-a)y- u-tzib-i(l) (u-)nah-a(l), y-uk-ib ti-ul for here was made proper the writing, the nah, (it is) the drink-instrument
for atole (corn gruel). The PSS on Kerr No. 4909 can be tentatively transcribed as a-LAY-ya ta?-TAB?-yi u-tzi-bi-na-ha-la

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184 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

yu-KA?-bi ta-yu-ta-la ti-tzi-hi and transliterated as a-lay tab-ay-, u-tzib-i(l) (u-)nah-al, y-uk-ib ta-yut-al ti-tzih or here was
made proper the writing, (the) nah, (it is) the drink-instrument for seeds for food stus. In a recent note, distributed among fellow
epigraphers in January and February of 2001, I suggest that tzib and nah (meaning still unknown) are independent linguistic items
based on several examples in which nah is preceded by the third person possessive pronoun u- or appears before the tzib stem (cf.
Boot 2001b), a conclusion also reached independently by David Mora-Marn. These examples militate against the suggestion that
tzib-n-ah should be the correct reconstruction of the common spelling tzi-bi-na-ha (cf. Lacadena n.d.). The collocation yu-KA?-
bi (alternatively yu-ki?-bi, cf. Mora-Marn 2000a) for y-uk-ib identies the kind of class of objects (drink-instruments) to which
these ceramics belong (it is an eloborate name-tag structure, as the name of the owner or patron may follow later in the rim text, a
phenomenon rst discovered on ear ares, cf. Justeson 1983 & Mathews 1979).
5) Recently, Stuart suggested a reading CHE:N cave, cli for the IMPINGED.BONE and variant signs (T571, T598, T599,
and variants; cf. Stuart, Houston, and Robertson 1999: II-15). This reading has a great appeal, but the added query expresses my
remaining present doubt on the correctness of the suggested reading.
6) The reading XUL for the eccentric int logograph is based on a suggestion by Christian Prager, in which an possible example of
this Emblem Glyph in a painted text at the cave of Naj Tunich (Drawing 68, cf. Stone 1995: Fig. 6-52, Plate 10) may transcribe
xu?-lu-WITZ-AHAW (although at that time a reading TUN was preferred instead of WITZ, cf. Boot 1996a: 6 & Prager 1996:
2). It has to be noted that at present certain epigraphers doubt the syllabic value xu for T756 BAT.HEAD (cf. Martin and Grube
2000) (see note 10). David Stuart recently expressed his doubt that the Xultun-like Emblem Glyph at Naj Tunich refers to
Xultun (e-mail to the author, November 2003).
7) The bakab or ba(h)kab rst or head of the world title is probably the best known title that opens with ba(h) rst or head (cf.
Houston and Stuart 1998; Schele 1990). The ba(h) title thus distinguishes between the one who is considered to be head and
those who are not to be considered head, i.e. the others (Houston and Stuart 2001: 62). This particular title can be found written
ba-ka-ba, BAH-ka-ba, and ba-ka-BAH. At present I have identied the following ba(h) titles (each preceded by T501 ba or
T757 BAH), some of which are well-known while others are rare: ba(h)ahaw rst or head king (Palenque & Piedras Negras),
ba(h)al rst or head child (of mother) (Tonin), ba(h)bak rst or head captive (Kimbell Panel), ba(h)cheb rst or head
(of the) quill (Piedras Negras), ba(h)chok rst or head sprout, ba(h)ix(ik) rst or head woman, ba(h)itzat(?) rst or head
sage, ba(h)kab rst or head (of the) earth or world, ba(h)kelem(?) rst or head strong one (Jolj Cave, Group 4 paintings),
ba(h)pakal rst or head (of the) shield (Bonampak & Chichn Itz), ba(h)pom rst or head (of the) incense (Bonampak &
SAMA Vase), ba(h)sahal rst or head provincial leader, ba(h)te rst or head (of the) tree or sta, ba(h)tem rst or head (of
the) throne (Piedras Negras), ba(h)tok rst or head (of the) int (Bonampak & Tonin), ba(h)tun rst or head (of the) stone
(Nakb ceramic & Mermoz Gallery Vase), ba(h)tzam rst or head (of the) throne (Ek Balam, Mural A & C) ba(h)uxul(?) rst
or head sculptor, and ba(h)wayib rst or head (of the) dormitory (Kimbell Panel, Laxtunich Lintel). At Chichn Itz occurs
the sequence ba-hi-CAPPED.HUMAN.HEAD, a possible additional ba(h) title of still unknown meaning (main sign remains
undeciphered, but see Chapter 4 for a suggestion as nakon capitn de gente). Most of these ba(h) titles may be derived from
generic ah he of ... titles, such as: ah bak (also note titles as ah hux bak, ah huk bak, and ah winik bak), ah cheb, ah kab, ah pakal,
ah pom, ah te, ah tem, ah tok (sangrador in colonial Yucatec Maya), ah tun, ah tzam (ah pop ah tzam title in Book of Chilam
Balam of Tizimn), ah uxul(?) (attested epigraphically), and ah wayib.
8) I transcribe these particular collocations (one is the last of the rim text, the second directly follows in the rst diagonal column
below it) as EL-KIN-ni? CHEN?-na-ba for elkin chenba(h). A new vessel, Kerr No. 8732, posted in September 2003 in Justin
Kerrs archive of rollout photographs on the web at <http://research.famsi.org/kerrmaya.html> (with comments by Marc Zender)
conrms the reading elkin. To my knowledge it was Zender who rst suggested the elkin reading.
9) A column at the South Building at the Great Ballcourt of Chichn Itz contains a glyphic design serving as a name caption
representing a full-bodied serpent with a star sign attached reading chanek or kanek (see further down in the main text of this
chapter). This particular glyphic design at Chichn Itz, rst identied by Linnea Wren during the 1995 Texas Maya Meetings, may
provide additional support for the present interpretation.

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 185

10) The value xu for the BAT.HEAD was originally suggested by Nikolai Grube in the early 1990s. Recently several epigraphers have
raised doubt on the syllabic value of T756 BAT.HEAD as xu (cf. Martin and Grube 2000). The BAT.HEAD sign substitutes
for T563a tzi on several bone pins, as u-pu-T756 ba-ki can be found on one bone pin for u-putz bak (it is) the sewing
bone of ... . Other bone pins provide u-pu-T563a for u-putz (bone pins in private collection, probably from an illegal 1998
excavation at Naranjo; photographed by Justin Kerr in 1998 as Kerr No. 8019, available at the The Mesoamerican Portfolio at
URL <www.mayavase.com>) (cf. Boot 2002a: 68). The collocation yu-BAT.HEAD-lu and ya-BAT.HEAD-ni or ya-COTINGA?-
JAGUAR(- ma) may thus not lead to y-uxul and Yaxun Balam (as retained in the main text). It has to be noted that several
epigraphers, among them the present author, have proposed that there might be several dierent BAT.HEAD signs each with
dierent values (for tzi, xu, yo, and SUTZ/SOTZ). Recent epigraphic and linguistic research by Barbara MacLeod seems to
provide additional evidence for a value xu for certain BAT.HEAD signs (e-mail letters received in October & November 2003).
11) The title here transliterated as ah kuhun can be found written in several variants as a-KUH-HUN-na, a-KUH-HUN, and its
most abbreviated (and earliest) form a-KUH-na. I take the T1016 sign only to represent the value KUH. In the earliest stage
of its decipherment by Nikolai Grube (1995) it was transliterated ah ku hun and interpreted as keeper of the holy book(s)
or librarian (Coe and Kerr 1997: 90; Schele and Grube 1995: 18-20). The item hun besides book also means headband
and a more recent transliteration is ah kuh(ul) hun for he of the god(ly) headband (compare to Grube 1999). Recently Jackson
and Stuart provided a historic overview of the decipherment of this title or term of rank and additionally proposed two new
transcriptions and interpretations as aj kuhul hun (in keep with the orthography used here: ah kuhul hun), namely one of the
holy books/paper/headbands (as AJ-KUHUL-HUN-na) and aj kuhun (ah kuhun) one who keeps, guards or one who
worships, venerates (as AJ-KUH-HUN-na) (cf. Jackson and Stuart 2001). Based on my own epigraphic research I consider T12
only to be employed as a, never as AJ (cf. Boot 2003c) and T1016 only as KUH, never as KUHUL. I thus prefer to tentatively
transliterate the title as ah kuhun with the probable meaning worshipper/person who worships(?).
12) In recent years there has been a growing debate on the value of T759 RABBIT.HEAD and T580. Several epigraphers favor(ed)
a syllabic value lo (including the present author, cf. Boot 1997b), while others preferred pe (cf. Schele and Grube 1996; for
new arguments see Beliaev and Davletshin 2001). Recently, Stuart suggested a logographic value CHIT (Stuart, Houston, and
Robertson 1999: II-56), based on specic patterns of postxing with signs for ti and ta as well as through a full phonetic spelling
chi-ti (this example is not given by Stuart, but I gather that he included the example of Machaquil Stela 11 and Tamarindito
Hieroglyphic Stairway 3, Step VI: A-B in his research). Although I have been hesitant to follow this new reading, I currently do
accept his logographic reading (the Machaquil and Tamarindito example persuaded me to accept the proposal) and I extend
this transcription to the tentative transliteration of a Chichn Itz god-name, which I identify as Yax Chich Kan Ahaw (ya-YAX-
RABBIT.HEAD-che ka-na AHAW-wa) (for a more in-depth discussion, see Chapter 4).
13) The HALF.PERIOD sign has the logographic value LAM, which is based on a substitution of the HALF.PERIOD sign with la-ma
in the titular and nominal phrase of a Ro Azul king named Kinich Lamaw Ek on Kerr No. 5022 and No. 7720 (KINICH-HALF.
PERIOD-EK vs. KINICH-la-ma-wa-EK). This decipherment was proposed rst by David Stuart, but remains unpublished.
14) The hieroglyphic text of Dos Pilas Stela 15 possibly contains two glyphic references to the image of ruler Itzamnah Kawil
impersonating or animating the Water Lily Serpent. The rst reference states naw-ah- u-win(?)-bah-il Smoke GI or adorned
was he as the portrait/image of Smoke GI, with Smoke GI a local manifestation of the Palenque Triad god GI (God One, cf.
Berlin 1963; the collocation can be transcribed as SMOKE-PORTRAIT.HEAD.OF.GI). The second reference states tzap-ah u-
lakamtun-il Smoke GI or planted was the banner stone of Smoke GI, referring to the erection of the stela with ruler Itzamnah
Kawil as Smoke GI. Interestingly, the ruler impersonates the Water Lily Serpent, not a local manifestation of GI (no indicative
elements of GI can be found in the portrait, except possibly the small barble in the corner of the mouth of the Water Lily Serpent
mask). Hellmuth (1987: 79-80, 85) was the rst who clearly associated specic manifestations of GI with the surface of the
watery underworld. Also the Water Lily Serpent is associated with the surface of the watery underworld and there are several
important examples of Early Classic manifestations of GI wearing the Water Lily Serpent in the headdress (Hellmuth 1987: Figs.
332-333). It could thus be possible that the Water Lily Serpent is the ophidian manifestion of GI, much like the Principal Bird
Deity is the avian manifestation of God D/Itzamnah. Support for this suggestion may be found in the text and image of Dos Pilas

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186 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Stela 15, which refers in the text to Smoke GI, a local manifestation of GI, but portrays the ruler as the Water Lily Serpent.
The frequent inclusion of the Chak god head (another manifestation of GI, cf. Boot 2002b) in the headdress may thus not be
coincidental. If correct, many rulers may incorporate the Triad gods in their costume; thus these rulers animate GI (by wearing the
Water Lily Serpent mask and/or incorporating Chak-GI in the headdress), while they carry in their hands the images of GII (God
Two, who is Kawil) and GIII (God Three, who is the Bearded Jaguar God/God of Number Seven) (e.g. Machaquil Stela 2).
Recent activity (2004) by looters at the site of Dos Pilas has destroyed parts of Dos Pilas Stelae 14 and 15. Most unfortunate is the
destruction of Stela 14, from which the Kawil gure was removed through chisel and saw, also destroying the face and mask of the
depicted Dos Pilas ruler Itzamnah Kawil (cf. Guenter n.d.b).
15) Although bakab (or ba(h)kab, see note 7) is a common Classic Maya supreme elite title, combined with the numeral 28 it is
still a title of unknown meaning. Other 28 bakab titles occur at Naj Tunich (Drawings 25, 28, & 66), while enigmatic titles
containing 28 occur at Naranjo (28 JAGUAR.GOD.EYE-n-ib, Stela 13 & 21; possibly referring to the GIII shield as a war
instrument, as such the ending in -n-ib [-n- antipassive sux to derive an intransitive, -ib instrumental sux]). Also see Topoxt
Mirror: O-P (GIII-hi-n-ib), Tikal (28 pet?, Stela 31), Nimli Punit (Stela 21), and Seibal Hieroglyphic Stairway (Panel 6: GG2,
winik-n-ib).
16) An elaborate description by Nikolai Grube of Machaquil Stela 2 was published in the German catalog Die Welt der Maya
(Eggebrecht and Eggebrecht 1992: 502-504). In that description the Machaquil ruler is named Kinich Chakte, which in the
main text here is corrected to Ochkin Kalomt. In Grubes description also the mask of Chak in the headdress is identied, but not
the facial mask as carried by Ochkin Kalomt. The mask carried by Ochkin Kalomt represents the Water Lily Serpent; this is a
complex ophidian entity in Classic Maya art associated with the water surface (cf. Hellmuth 1987: 160 [as Lily Pad Headdress
Monster]; Schele and Freidel 1990: 418; Schele and Miller 1986: 46). The facial mask of the Water Lily Serpent contains a
hooked upper jaw in front of the human face on which two tubular elements with attached beads are placed (compare to Hellmuth
1987: Figs. 321-323) while often a sh nibbling on a water lily blossom can be found in the headdress (e.g. Dos Pilas Stela 15 &
Machaquil Stela 3, 4, 8, and 7). The lower jaw is present in some of the facial masks, but it is less pronounced (e.g. Machaquil
Stela 2) or even absent (e.g. Machaquil Stela 4). Mask and headdress together than represent the Water Lily Serpent, the entity the
ruler impersonates or makes animate (cf. Houston and Stuart 1996).
17) The T501var Imix glyphic sign (with the cross-hatched dot) here may represent the value HA water and may be indicative of
the fact that the quatrefoil shaped depression at Machaquil permanently was lled with water (note Piedras Negras Stela 3: E2,
which has the Water Lily Serpent as the cephalomorphic variant of the day sign Imix; the Classic Maya name for the rst day may
well have been ha water; the rst day in the Late Postclassic central Mexican calendar was Cipactli Crocodile, another water-
related creature like the Water Lily Serpent). It has to be noted that this particular location (or a location with the same name)
also seems to be named as the place where Itzamnah Kawil of Dos Pilas performed the *9.14.5.0.0, 12 Ahaw 8 Kankin, or rst
ve-tun period (nah ho tun) ceremony in A.D. 716 (Fig. 2.12, Stela 11: A3-B2). The last mention of this location is Seibal Stela
4, dated to *10.1.10.0.0, 4 Ahaw 13 Kankin, in A.D. 859. Thus perhaps some 143 years this quatrefoil shaped location may
have played a pivotal role in these important local ceremonies. It should be noted that one of the surviving glyphs from the stucco
faade text of Seibals Structure A-3 also depicts the quatrefoil with central T501var HA sign (Schele and Mathews 1998: Fig. 5.7).
Albeit very tentative (the appearance of a glyph out-of-context simply can not be considered evidence), Structure A-3 may have
been intended to be an architectural representation of Machaquils quatrefoil plaza depression, itself a reference to the location as
mentioned at Dos Pilas already in A.D. 716. Structure A-3 is a building in the shape of a quatrefoil.
18) As proposed in earlier research, depictions of the Shell Wing Dragon can also be found at House B and the Tablet of the Slaves at
Palenque (cf. Hellmuth 1987: 167-168, Figs. 338-341). Also note the incorporation of the Shell Wing Dragon into the headdresses
of Yaxchiln ruler Yaxun Balam IV on for instance Lintels 2 and 5 (cf. Graham 1977: 15, 21).
19) The main sign of this collocation is slightly eroded. It is prexed with u and postxed with ya. Details that remain of the
main sign seem to indicate that it may have been T769 CENTIPEDE.JAWS. This main sign may thus spell the gloss in Classic
Maya for the cache or space that was closed at this date. If correct, the prexed u is recorded to represent the third person
preconsonantal possessive pronoun that indicates the gloss opened with a consonant while the postx ya may provide a clue to its

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logographic value (as either CVy or CVCVy, in the main text once it is partially transliterated as u-?(a)y) (see Carrasco and Hull
2002 for a discussion of the mak- stem as well as u-CENTIPEDE.JAWS-ya collocations in Northern Yucatn). T769 is used as
the superx in the collocation that represents the month Wayeb in Classic Maya inscriptions. The Classic Maya month name may
have been WAY?-HAB(-ba) for Wayhab Sleeping (period) of the Year (cf. Boot 2002a: 85, 113-114). If correct, T769 would
be logographic WAY. Recently, Barbara MacLeod informed me that already in April 1989 she had proposed this particular value
(personal communication, March 2003 [XXVIIth TMM, Austin]; cf. MacLeod 1989). The value T769 WAY may be substantiated
by a spelling of the nineteenth month name as wa-T539.WAY (see Kerr No. 3201).
20) An additional indication that all people involved in these scenarios, including the possible short distance migrations in the
Petexbatn-Ro Pasin area (Dos Pilas, Aguateca, Machaquil, Seibal), are local (regional) people may be found in the following
dental research results, which
[...] indicate that, whether the individuals from the sites [of Seibal and Altar de Sacricios] are considered as one population
or as separate populations, there is greater genetic continuity through time than geographically. This does not support the
postulate concerning large-scale population intrusion into these two Maya communities during the Terminal Classic. Instead,
the results suggest the persistence of local endogamy with relatively little change in the dental genes through time (Saul 1973:
304).
21) Schele and Mathews suggest that the latest occupation at Seibal may be a re-establishment of the Dos Pilas-Aguateca dynasty
(Schele and Mathews 1998: 179, note 5). For this there is at present no epigraphic or archaeological evidence. It has to be noted
that these authors do not include Machaquil in their reconstruction.
22) The hieroglyphic sign used to represent the ophidian head is very close to the head of full-bodied representations of the Water Lily
Serpent (Hellmuth 1987: Figs. 322-323). Specically note the cross-barred element in the lower jaw of the creature, also present in
the hieroglyphic sign. In the few full-bodied examples of the Water Lily Serpent that are available, the body itself is clearly ophidian.
On many occasions the conjured creature, as is the case here, is named.
In all the examples of this kind of serpent name the phrase ends in nahkan (spelled either NAH-ka-SERPENT or na-ka-
SERPENT). The gloss for great in many Lowland Maya languages is noh (cf. Dienhart 1989). I would like to note that entries
as nahwah (noh + wah big + bread) and nah (noh + h big + water; note a seventeenth century Yucatec speaking community
accessible from the Usamacinta Valley that was known as Nohaa, cf. Scholes and Roys 1968: 45-46 [Nohh according to Lpez
de Cogolludo 1971 [1688], vol. 2: 581, Libro XXII, Cap. 3, 4, & 7]) in the Lacandn language may suggest that possibly also in
Classic Maya nah- in nahkan may originally have been noh-, which underwent a similar phonological change (through a proces
referred to as metathesis) of /o/ to /a/ due to the following item kan. Nahkan may thus mean Big or Great Serpent.
23) A most impressive polychrome painted Classic example of a dancing anthropomorphic Bearded Jaguar God, including jaguar
footwear and gloves, can be found on Kerr No. 1201. The Seibal impersonator in his costumed appearance is very close to this
particular Classic Maya anthropomorphic manifestation of the Bearded Jaguar God.
24) The nominal phrase that contains the part bo-bo (a syllabic sign deciphered by Nikolai Grube, cf. Grube and Martin 2002) may
be another example of an area specic nominal phrase. This nominal phrase occurs three times at Machaquil (referring to a captive
named Bob Tok Coyote Flint; bob coyote, cf. Lacadena and Wichmann n.d.: 42, cf. also Dienhart 1989: 159). The only other
examples of a spelling bo-bo can be found at the site of Ixtutz (Stela 4: A4b, Panel 1: XI), a site just north of Machaquil, and on
an unprovenanced Late Classic ceramic vessel (Kerr No. 2573 [Kerr 1990: 245]). On this vessel the part bob occurs in one of the
secondary texts, namely in the nominal spelled KAN bo-bo or Kan Bob Yellow Coyote. The secondary texts on this vessel
contain the Emblem Glyphs of Motul de San Jos and Mutal (more probably Tikal than Dos Pilas). The particular geographical
distribution of the nominals transliterated as Siyah Kin Chak, Hun Tzak Tok, and Bob in this essay has been recognized in
previous research (cf. Fahsen 1983: 429; Proskouriako 1973: 167), although without these current transliterations. Interestingly,
a nominal phrase Kan Bob Tok occurs in the Northern Maya Lowlands, namely at Ek Balam, in the painted mural text in
Room 29-sub C of Structure 1 (in this text he is said to arrive) and in the inscribed text on Miscellaneous Monument 4 (Grube,
Lacadena, and Martin 2003: II27-II29).

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It has to be noted that the nominal phrase Siyah Kin Chak also identies an individual as mentioned at Seibal on Stela 6 (at
D5[si-ya-ha]-A6[KIN-CHAK-ki]). Part of this name was incorrectly identied in other research as an intrusive Seibal ruler (cf.
Matthews 1994a: Appendix 1), probably it is the name of a defeated lord. Based on a more correct transcription of one of the
nominals above as SPLIT.KIN(-ni) CHAK-ki the actual transliteration might be Pakin Chak Chak who Splits the Sun. If
correct, there is no relationship between the name of Pakin Chak of Machaquil and the individuals named Siyahkin Chak at
Ucanal and Seibal. Pakin Chak would thus be a nominal restricted to Machaquil only (and would be indicative of an even more
limited geographical distribution of certain nominals).
25) Stuart and Houston (in Schele and Grube 1994: 118-119) were the rst to suggest that the father of Nun Uhol Chak was Animal
Skull, whose probable Classic Maya name was Kinich Waw Sun-face/eye Turtle as recently suggested by Guenter (e-mail,
November 23, 2001 & personal communication, March 9-10, 2002 [XXVIth TMM, Austin]) (cf. Guenter 2002a).
26) In earlier research there are references to the possible arrival of Nun Uhol Chak in A.D. 659 at Palenque (Temple of the Inscriptions,
West Tablet: K9-L10), after his defeat by Calakmul (cf. Anaya Hernndez and Guenter n.d.; Schele and Grube 1994: 124; Martin
and Grube 2000: 42). This scenario may be incorrect, as recent epigraphic research seems to show. This supposed episode at
Palenque may involve a dierent human character also named Nun Uhol Chak from a polity currently nicknamed wa-Bird,
probably the site of Santa Elena (cf. Grube, Martin, and Zender 2002). The relative closeness of the dates as well as the nearly
identical Emblem Glyphs may thus be mere coincidence. Also the Nun Uhol Chak mentioned in the text of the Hieroglyphic
Stairway (at D3) in the East Court (West Side) of the Palace at Palenque refers to the character from the wa-Bird polity.
27) The part -nal in Mutalnal (MUT-la-na-li) seems to be connected to nal and nail as in Yucatec Maya baal nail domstico, familiar,
hal nail familia o familiar and sihnal el natural de algn pueblo o provincia, o que naci en l (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980:
36, 177, 727). In this particular case I do not consider -nal in Mutalnal to mean place as the sux -al in Mutal already indicates
place. Also note the item 2po-a-NAL (Chikiniha, Throne, Sides) for popoanal Popoa (Tonin) Person.
28) Also a complete and annotated translation (into German) of the chronicles from the Books of Chilam Balam can be found in the
recent dissertation by Gunsenheimer (2002: Chapter 3). She provides an in-depth text(ual) analysis of these various chronicles
that shows how the texts were composed and from which perspective they were written (impersonal, active, passive) as well as their
possible authorship (Gunsenheimer 2002: Chapter 5).
29) Possible additional conrmation that indeed itza/iza functions as a toponym may be found in the following phrases from
colonial sources, each part of the ve prophecies as proclaimed by Maya priests before the conquest. These ve prophecies are
generally known as Prophecies of a New Religion, as named by Roys (1933: 60, 164). In total there are ve versions, namely as
given by Lizana (1995 [1633]), and the Books of Chilam Balam of Man (Codex Prez), Oxkutzcab (Codex Prez), Tizimn, and
Chumayel. For instance, the Chumayel provides the sentence ualac uil suyua: ualacuil // ytza (MS 103, lines 8-9) in a passage
prior to the ve prophecies, in which suyua is known to be a toponym (see main text). One of the actual prophecies has the
sentence Valac vil ytza valac vil // vil tan cahe (MS 105, line 26 - 106, line 1), a similar phrasing in which tan cahe is known
to refer to a toponym (as in tan cah mayapan, see main text; -e is a topic marker). These prophecies themselves do provide
the reference ah ytzae (MS 105, lines 17-18, 21 - 106, line 20). In these particular texts an internal dierence seems to be made
between the toponym ytza and the ethnonym ah ytzae. The two examples from the prophecy section, each clearly a couplet,
may thus provide additional clues to the fact that itza/iza served as a toponym in the phrases u chi chheen ytza and chichen
iza.
30) In a recent paper this particular katun 4 Ahaw is related to the period A.D. 455-475 (Smyth and Rogart 2004: 17); the arrival of
outsiders is acknowledged, but it is related to central Mexico, in specic Teotihuacan. Unfortunately, the authors cite only the rst
few lines of this text, it is thus out of context, while no rigorous comparison to any other katun period on the arrival of outsiders
from the chronicles is presented. As such I nd their suggestion to be in error, but I do not deny intense, complex, and inuential
contacts with central central Mexico (Teotihuacan) and Yucatn (see later suggestions in this chapter).
31) Christensen (1997) notes that 40 year periods as referred to in central Mexican and Maya indigenous sources may have a Christian
origin. Note as such the Old Testament reference in which God ordained a 40 year trek through the desert by the Children
of Israel before they could enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14: 34) and the New Testament reference to 40 days and 40

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 189

nights, the amount of time Jesus spent in the desert (Matthew 4: 1-3, Mark 1: 9-13, and Luke 4: 1-13). The number 40 is also
of importance in another world religion. According to tradition, in the sixth century B.C., Siddhartha Gautama sat at the foot of
the Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) and after 40 days (the day after the seven weeks) he received nirvana extinguishing of desire and
became Buddha He who has Supreme Knowledge. The place where he received nirvana is now known as Bodh Gaya.
32) In support of Roys original identication, recently Adelaar noted that hek-el is recorded as to split in Modern Yucatec
(personal communication, November, 2001). hek may then serve as a numeral classier, much like te in bolonte uitz Nine
(counted) Mountains. Kan-hek Witz would thus be Four (that are split) Mountains.
33) Discussing this particular passage with Adelaar, he noted that in the seventeenth century some writers used /h/ to indicate a glottal
aspirate or //. The entry halmahthanil may thus be almahthanil (personal communication, November 2001). If this would apply
to hek in canhek the proposed reconstruction may work better, as /ek/ should be recorded with an initial glottal stop as in /ek/
star.
34) The item Bolonte Witz itself (thus not a location) has a Classic Maya ancestry. At Copn in the text of Stela I (Schele 1989a: 91)
one can nd a collocation spelled NINE-TE WITZ for balunte witz. Bolon (Yucatec) and balun (Classic Maya) are variants for
the number nine. The passage in which it appears can be transliterated as i-tzak-ah- kawil, u-kab-h-iy chante/kante chok-tak
balunte witz or then was conjured Kawil (by him), they supervised it, (the) Chante/Kante Choktak (Four [counted] Princes,
Sprouts or Emergent Ones) Balunte Witz (-tak is a rare postx marking plural form on animate objects, as rst identied by
Alfonso Lacadena Garca-Gallo and Jos Miguel Garca Campillo in the inscriptions of Oxkintok, Yucatn, Mexico). In this phrase
Balunte Witz seems to operate as a nominal. The basal panel of Quirigu Stela E may provide a combination of elements [... that]
may be read as [...] bolonte witz (Looper 2003: 154). Copn and Quirigu are situated in the southeastern section of the Southern
Maya Lowlands. An Early Classic stucco covered vessel found in Burial 160 at Tikal records the title NINE WITZ AHAW for
balun witz ahaw. The title Balun Witz Ahaw is associated with a supernatural entity possibly related to the watery underworld (cf.
Hellmuth 1987). As -te in Bolonte Witz can be identied as a numeral classier, it has to be noted that certain numeral classiers
are optional; one of those numeral classiers is -te as used in numerical and calendrical statements (cf. Stuart and Houston 1994).
These examples may show that Bolonte Witz could have been a toponym in the Classic period too; it is clear in some examples
that toponyms can have a very long history and deep ancestry (cf. Stuart and Houston 1994).
35) In the main text no translation is oered for Kokob. In Yucatec Maya there does not seem to be a good translation possible
(compare to Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 329-330, but note kok tortuga terrestre). In Itz Maya, however, the item kok is
glossed as animal, plant (cf. Hoing and Tesucn 1997: 356). The sux -ob (-ob) may simply denote the plural (thus possibly
animals, plants as a translation for kokob) or it could be a vowel harmonic -Vb sux of unknown meaning.
36) The most salient aspect of this passage is that it is stated that the Maya boats had sails. I have not found any other ethnohistoric
source that could verify such a fact. The Classic (and pre-Conquest) Maya probably did not possess boats with sails as all images
of naval vehicles in Maya art that I am familiar with only depict large canoes without sails (compare to Andrews 1991: 72-75; also
see Sharer 1994: 732). It has to be noted that there is a unique drawing scratched into the plaster coating of one of the rooms of
a temple structure at Yaxh that may depict a boat with a center mast and lines attached to bow, sides, and stern (VanKirk and
Bassett-VanKirk 1996: 103). This may indeed be the depiction of a sailboat, the only one of which I am aware in the Maya area;
however, details in the drawing suggest it is the depiction of a colonial Spanish sailing boat (note that boats like this were especially
built on the shoars of Lake Petn to invade the Noh Petn island), not a traditional Maya dugout canoe of which depictions are
known on incised bones (Tikal), ceramics, and murals (for these dugout canoes large mahogany trees were used and these canoes
could hold up to 50 people, cf. VanKirk and Bassett-VanKirk 1996: 150).
37) Although very tentative, this particular route may be a kind of re-enactment of the original migration route now touching on all
the places (nearly 180 places are mentioned) that may have belonged to the greater Itz inuence sphere in the north of Yucatn.
The map containing the places as identied by Edmonson (1986: 270, after Roys 1933), although some locations may be in error,
seems to encompass a large territory including sites as Mrida, Izamal, Mayapn, Chichn Itz, and Valladolid. Uxmal seems to be
on the very edge of this possible territory (as it would have belonged to the Tutul Xiu, cf. Boot 1997c; Schele, Grube, and Boot
1998).

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38) The root hedz has many related meanings such as jar, armar, asentar y apoyar con rmeza, soliviar o sustentar la carga. Note
for example important entries as hedz cah hets kah poblar ciudad o lugar and hedz luum hets luum escoger lugar o tierra;
tomar posesin and poblar, tomar posesin (Barrera Vsquez et al. 1980: 204).
39) Also note the phrase ah ytzatun uka//baob (Chumayel MS 78, lines 3-4), with the meaning the Itz, thus (or: then), was their
name, as discussed earlier in the main text. Alternatively, but less likely, tun may refer to the fact that it was customary in Yucatn
to mark the elapse of a katun by placing a stone (tun) in a wall (Snchez de Aguilar 1987 [1639]: 96), a ceremony which in the
Classic period probably was referred to as kal- tun to wrap or bind stone (cf. Stuart 1996).
40) The order of linguistic items providing titles and personal names is dierent in Cholan and Yucatecan languages. This dierence
can be shown also in Classic Maya inscriptions (cf. Lacadena 2000a). In examples from Chontal based ethnohistorical documents
and inscriptions from the Southern Maya Lowlands rst personal names are given, followed by titles. In examples from Yucatecan
based ethnohistorical documents and inscriptions from the Northern Maya Lowlands rst titles are given, followed by personal
names. Additionally, in the Northern Maya Lowlands personal names may be preceded and succeeded by titles (for example, as
is the case on Dzibilchaltn Stela 19, kalomte [nominal] kuhul [toponym/polity name] ahaw).
41) As an alternative, this verb may be the star-over-earth war verb. I communicated this alternative to Alexander Vo on December
8, 2000, and he informed me that he also considered this alternative a good possibility. A future check of the original monument
(permanently exhibited in the Regional Museum in the Palacio Cantn, Mrida, Yucatn) may help to settle the problem.
42) During the Chichn Workshop at the Third European Maya Conference in Hamburg (November 18-22, 1998; group members
were Frau Claudius, Helga Mira-Miram, and Lorraine Williams-Beck) I proposed a similar interpretation of these particular signs
as deictics or focus markers. As such I fully agree with Jos Miguel Garca Campillos proposal. Recently, Alexander Vo presented
an alternative interpretation that does not consider a function as a deictic or focusing marker but interprets it as a title (cf. Vo
2000), possibly following an earlier suggestion by Ringle (1990) (see Chapter 4).
43) In an earlier section in this chapter I suggested that the toponym itza may possibly be derived from *itz-ha or itz water.
Interestingly, both itza and maya are toponyms that have the ending -a() in common. Instead of suggesting that maya may be
analyzed as *may-ha or may water, I want to oer an alternative which is that the ending -a() possibly is an ancient toponymic
marker for territory, thus itz-a itz territory and may-a() may territory. The item may may mean deer (cf. Ciudad Real 1984,
vol. 1: 22r ah may: venadillo pequeo criado en cafa ix may. venadilla a; Aulie and Aulie 1978: 213, chijmay venado comn)
and as such may-a() may mean deer territory. Interestingly, another indigenous reference to the northern section of Yucatn was u
lumil kutz yetel keh (Landa 1566: fol. 1v, line 11: vlumilcuz, y etelceh) or u luumil kutz, u luumil keh the land of the turkey and
the deer (Mediz Bolio 1980: 21). Both references to this territory may thus include a word for deer, either may (domestic) or keh
(wild). Also the references itza() winikob and maya() winikob should be noted, which both contain a toponym (itza[], maya[])
and a reference to the people (winikob) living there. While (nearly) all indigenous people in the Maya area are now referred to
as (ethnically) Maya (this situation ultimately derives from the work of Stoll [1884, 1886, 1889]), actually only the people living
in the pre-Conquest territory named Maya (mya) can be referred to in that manner. Based on their own terminology, there are
for instance the maya[] winikob deer-territory (maya[]) people (winikob) (area: Northern Yucatn, Mexico), itza() winikob
itz-territory (itza[]) people (winikob) (area: El Petn, Guatemala), the ahmaktun those of stone-ledge and maktun winikob
stone-ledge people (area: Acalan-Candelaria) and the kiche winaq many trees/forest (kiche) people (winaq) (area: El Quich,
Guatemala).
There are additional examples from Classic Maya inscriptions for the toponymic sux -a. For example, Tonin was referred to as
popoa (its kings are referred to as kuhul popo ahaw; note the title of provenience popoanal popoa native); a most important local
toponym at Piedras Negras is referred to as either kinnal or kina (its kings carry the kuhul yokib ahaw title combined with kin
ahaw). In Classic Maya the suxes -il (place of ...), -al ([place of ] abundance of ...), -nal (place), and -a (territory?) thus all
marked toponyms. More research is necesarry in this important etymological area. Other possible candidates with -a are El Per
(wa-ka-a for wak-a, although standing water has been proposed for this toponym), Motul de San Jos (T23inv:503-a for ik(?)-
a or na(?)-a), and the wa-Bird polity (note wa-BIRD-a collocations as mentioned at Palenque, Palace, House A Panels) (cf. Boot
n.d.a.).

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 191

44) The item Chanpet/Kanpet may provide the nominal of a god. In 2000, photographs of a Maya ceramic vessel in a private European
collection were kindly put at my disposal by the collector. The vessel is of late Early Classic/early Middle Classic manifacture, to
which attest the quality and the calligraphy of the primary and secondary hieroglyphic texts. The secondary texts on this ceramic
vessel provide the item FOUR-PET. This item is correlated with four depictions of an anthropomorphic gure. Each example is
preceded with a dierent color and associated world direction (only two captions survive in full, the other two still provide vestiges
of pertinent details of important collocations). Such a fourfold manifestation would be indicative of a godly stature of the gure in
question, much like the fourfold manifestations of the rain god Chak in the Maya codices. This vessel provides the earliest example
of a fourfold manifestation of a godly gure directly associated with colors and corresponding world directions (black-east, white-
north, red-west, yellow-south). This particular association between color and world direction in the Classic period was previously
only known from the relatively rare references to the 819-day count (but which would only provide one color and one world
direction at a time). The godly stature of this anthropomorphic gure is further substantiated through the fact that there was once
a god named Kanpech (Serpent Tick), venerated in the city of Campeche prior to the arrival of the Spaniards (the city and state
of Campeche are named after this idol; cf. Boot 2001a).
45) In a recent translation of the Chumayel, Edmonson tries to link the item tec uilue with the Nhuatl expression tecuilontli
sodomist and interprets it as a title of Kakupakal (Edmonson 1986: 61, line 299 plus note). However, Edmonson ignores the
copula yetel and between kak upacal and tec uilue that clearly indicates that both are nominals or titles of two dierent
individuals. This is conrmed in several Relaciones Geogrcas, for instance the Relacin de Citilcum y Cabiche which provides
the phrasing Ka Ku pacal y bilu capitanes balerosos Kakupakal and Bilu, valorous captains in a reference to the conquest of
a place named Motul (cf. De la Garza et al. 1983, vol. 1: 174 [line 10], 181). Although tentative, the item Tekuylu (or Tekuylu)
may contain the item Tekuy, a Classic Maya title specically known from Yaxchiln (name and title phrase of Yaxun Balam IV).
46) The Quinta Relacin of Corts can also be found in a facsimile version, as part of the Codex Vindobonensis S. N. 1600,
published in 1960 (Cartas 1960: fol. 229r-287r). Here I have followed the transcriptions as oered in the 1997 version of Corts
letters.
47) The name Kanek would be of importance once more, namely in Yucatn. In 1761, in the small town of Quistel (situated in the
ancient territory of the Kokom), Jacinto Uc headed a messianic insurrection, to which purpose he adopted the name and title of
Rey Jacinto Uc de los Santos Canek Chichan Moctezuma (Bartolom 1988: 170-178; Gonzlez Navarro 1970: 34-37). He became
known as Jacinto Canek. Unfortunately, his insurrection was violently broken. After being tortured for several days, Jacinto Canek
was executed on December 14, 1761. Intriguingly, the rst communique written by the leaders of the massive insurrection of
1847-1901 (generally known as La Guerra de Castas) was not only signed by Manuel Antonio Ay, but also by the long dead Jacinto
Canek (Bartolom 1988: 178; Gonzlez Navarro 1970: 78). Even this last insurrection was related, by way of a signature, to the
name of the last ruler of the Itz kingdom, Kanek.

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192 Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichn Itz, Yucatn, Mexico

Table 2.1 Chronological Placements of Katun Ahaw Dates between A.D. 514-1796
(based on 584,285 correlation constant)

Katun Ahaw Placements

11 Ahaw 514-534 771-790 1027-1047 1283-1303 1539-1559


9 Ahaw 534-554 790-810 1047-1066 1303-1323 1559-1579
7 Ahaw 554-573 810-830 1066-1086 1323-1342 1579-1599
5 Ahaw 573-593 830-849 1086-1106 1342-1362 1599-1618
3 Ahaw 593-613 849-869 1106-1125 1362-1382 1618-1638
1 Ahaw 613-633 869-889 1125-1145 1382-1401 1638-1658
12 Ahaw 633-652 889-909 1145-1165 1401-1421 1658-1677
10 Ahaw 652-672 909-928 1165-1185 1421-1441 1677-1697
8 Ahaw 672-692 828-948 1185-1204 1441-1461 1697-1717
6 Ahaw 692-711 948-968 1204-1224 1461-1480 1717-1736
4 Ahaw 711-731 968-987 1224-1244 1480-1500 1736-1756
2 Ahaw 731-751 987-1007 1244-1263 1500-1520 1756-1776
13 Ahaw 751-771 1007-1027 1263-1283 1520-1539 1776-1796

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On the Origin and History of the Itz: a Chronology of Itz Aairs ca. A.D. 550-1700 193

Table 2.2 Long Counts, Katun Ahaw Dates, and Christian Years between A.D. 435-
1993 (based on the 584,285 correlation constant)

Long Count Ahaw Date Year A.D. Long Count Ahaw Date Year A.D.

9.0.0.0.0, 8 Ahaw 435 11.0.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw 1224


9.1.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw 455 11.1.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 1244
9.2.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 475 11.2.0.0.0, 2 Ahaw 1263
9.3.0.0.0, 2 Ahaw 495 11.3.0.0.0, 13 Ahaw 1283
9.4.0.0.0, 13 Ahaw 514 11.4.0.0.0, 11 Ahaw 1303
9.5.0.0.0, 11 Ahaw 534 11.5.0.0.0, 9 Ahaw 1323
9.6.0.0.0, 9 Ahaw 554 11.6.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 1342
9.7.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 573 11.7.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 1362
9.8.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 593 11.8.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw 1382
9.9.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw 613 11.9.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 1401
9.10.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 633 11.10.0.0.0, 12 Ahaw 1421
9.11.0.0.0, 12 Ahaw 652 11.11.0.0.0, 10 Ahaw 1441
9.12.0.0.0, 10 Ahaw 672 11.12.0.0.0, 8 Ahaw 1461
9.13.0.0.0, 8 Ahaw 692 11.13.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw 1480
9.14.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw 711 11.14.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 1500
9.15.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 731 11.15.0.0.0, 2 Ahaw 1520
9.16.0.0.0, 2 Ahaw 751 11.16.0.0.0, 13 Ahaw 1539
9.17.0.0.0, 13 Ahaw 771 11.17.0.0.0, 11 Ahaw 1559
9.18.0.0.0, 11 Ahaw 790 11.18.0.0.0, 9 Ahaw 1579
9.19.0.0.0, 9 Ahaw 810 11.19.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 1599
10.0.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 830 12.0.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 1618
10.1.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 849 12.1.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw 1638
10.2.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw 869 12.2.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 1658
10.3.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 889 12.3.0.0.0, 12 Ahaw 1677
10.4.0.0.0, 12 Ahaw 909 12.4.0.0.0, 10 Ahaw 1697
10.5.0.0.0, 10 Ahaw 928 12.5.0.0.0, 8 Ahaw 1717
10.6.0.0.0, 8 Ahaw 948 12.6.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw 1736
10.7.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw 968 12.7.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 1756
10.8.0.0.0, 4 Ahaw 987 12.8.0.0.0, 2 Ahaw 1776
10.9.0.0.0, 2 Ahaw 1007 12.9.0.0.0, 13 Ahaw 1796
10.10.0.0.0, 13 Ahaw 1027 12.10.0.0.0, 11 Ahaw 1815
10.11.0.0.0, 11 Ahaw 1047 12.11.0.0.0, 9 Ahaw 1835
10.12.0.0.0, 9 Ahaw 1066 12.12.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 1855
10.13.0.0.0, 7 Ahaw 1086 12.13.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 1874
10.14.0.0.0, 5 Ahaw 1106 12.14.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw 1894
10.15.0.0.0, 3 Ahaw 1125 12.15.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 1914
10.16.0.0.0, 1 Ahaw 1145 12.16.0.0.0, 12 Ahaw 1934
10.17.0.0.0, 12 Ahaw 1165 12.17.0.0.0, 10 Ahaw 1953
10.18.0.0.0, 10 Ahaw 1185 12.18.0.0.0, 8 Ahaw 1973
10.19.0.0.0, 8 Ahaw 1204 12.19.0.0.0, 6 Ahaw 1993

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chapter-2.indd 194 20-12-2004 14:12:16
Chapter 3

The Arrival of Kukulkn and the Legitimacy of Itz Lordship


at Chichn Itz

3.0 Introduction

One specic passage by Dsir Charnay, for the rst time published in 1885, has highly inuenced re-
search on the history of Chichn Itz:

Revenons notre demeure, improprement appele le Castillo et qui tait un temple; cest, avec le jeu de
paume, le monuments le plus intressant de Chichen-Itza. [...] Cest l, dans ce temple, que nos trouvmes
les premires et plus clatantes analogies entre les sculptures et les bas-reliefs toltques des haut plateaux et les
bas-reliefs