Dedication, Termination and Balché
Ritual Drinks in an Ulúa Marble Vase from the Ancient Maya City of Pacbitun, Belize
Keywords:Ancient Maya, Belize, Pacbitun, Ulúa vase, Absorbed Residues, balché
The material plays a fundamental and active role in the social lives of people, from objects like containers or buildings to food and other consumables. In this paper, evidence from absorbed residues are used to explore the contents of an Ulúa-style marble vase found in a royal courtyard at the ancient Maya site of Pacbitun in west-central Belize. Those results indicate that the vase once held concoctions containing cacao, willow and possibly vanilla. Significantly, the results also confirm residues of the important Maya ritual drink balché, in an ancient container. By placing the vase and its contents in the history of Pacbitun, we demonstrate the important role of this object and its contents in dedicatory rituals practiced in this region; we argue that subsequent disturbance of the context and the vase in antiquity points to the fragmentation of kingship.
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