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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 01/16/2019 | 416 Views | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |

The Mass Grave of the Maya

Kulturelles Umfeld | Episode 7

In order to be able to interpret the traces of the remains found in the mass grave at Uxul, German archaeologist Dr. Nicolaus Seefeld and Mexican forensic scientist Ricardo Ruiz visit a museum in the former casemates of the San Miguel fortress. Exhibited here are important finds from the Mayan state of Campeche, such as finely worked stone objects, weapons and burial objects – indeed, in contrast to the mass grave of Uxul, the museum’s displays highlight the belief in the resurrection of the dead. 


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The project
Although Mayan art of the classic period (250-900 C.E.) frequently includes explicit depictions of ritual violence (e.g. humiliations of prisoners and sacrifices), there has so far been almost no documentation of any physical evidence of these practices from archaeological findings. Many investigations prove that the classic Maya applied ritual violence most frequently in the context of martial conflicts. As part of the research project presented, Dr. Nicolaus Seefeld examines both the political and religious function of ritual violence in classic Mayan society. The key point of reference for this overriding question is the mass grave of Uxul, which he discovered, documented archaeologically, and analyzed from the physical-anthropological perspective in 2013 and 2014. This grave lies in a manmade hollow and contains the remains of 27 individuals. Examination of the bone material showed that virtually all the individuals were decapitated and dismembered. Furthermore, most of the long bones showed characteristic traces of cuts, which indicate that the flesh was scraped from the body parts before the remains were deposited in the grave.

Dr. Nicolaus Seefeld

Peter Prestel

Klaus Hernitschek

Klaus Hernitschek

Gisela Graichen und Peter Prestel

All episodes
Research in the Maya lowland
Episode 1
The Excavations
Episode 2
Discovery site
Episode 3
The Forensic Scientist
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 5
A key piece
Episode 6
Kulturelles Umfeld
Episode 7
Episode 8
Episode 8

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