June 1999 Meeting of the Pre-Columbian Society

June 12, 1999 1:30 pm  Dr. Steven Whittington, "The Agony of Defeat: Trauma of Warfare and Sacrifice at Iximche"

Summary: More than 50 partial and whole skeletons out of a total sample
numbering around 66 from the Kaqchikel Maya capital display evidence of
warfare or sacrificial decapitation. The demographic profile of victims
provides insights into Late Postclassic warfare in highland Guatemala.
Modifications made in life to crania and teeth aid in identifying the
cultural affiliations of those sacrificed. Pathological lesions and
trauma unassociated with warfare on bones and teeth help in defining
the social status of warriors and sacrificial victims. Analysis of
skeletal remains from Iximche is helping to reconstruct ethnic
relations in highland Guatemala on the eve of the Spanish Conquest.

Biographical Data:

Stephen L. Whittington received his PhD in Anthropology from the
Pennsylvania State University in 1989. Since 1991 he has been Director
of the Hudson Museum and is currently Cooperating Associate Professor
of Anthropology at the University of Maine, located in Orono, Maine.
The William P. Palmer III Collection at the Hudson Museum includes the
largest insitituional collection of West Mexican tomb figures in the
United States, as well as 150 Maya objects, many of which are familiar
from publications by Michael Coe and Justin Kerr. The recipient of
National Science Foundation funding and a Fulbright grant, Dr.
Whittington directed excavations at satellite sites near Copan,
Honduras in 1984 and 1989 and studied the paleopathology and
paleodemography of the skeletal remains of Copan commoners for his
dissertation. Since 1992 he has been engaged in analysis of Kaqchikel
Maya skeletal remains excavated at various sites in highland Guatemala,
and especially the bones from Iximche, the Late Postclassic Kaqchikel
capital. He co-edited, with David Reed, Bones of the Maya: Studies of
Ancient Skeletons, which was published by Smithsonaian Institution
Press in 1997.

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