Daily life of ordinary people in ancient Maya murals

The prehistory tends to favor elites. Ancient Maya iconography, writing, and artifacts reveal much  about the ruling class, warfare, and elite rituals in Mesoamerica. A recent discovery of extensive mural paintings at Calakmul, located in southern Mexico near the Guatemalan border, sheds light on the majority of the population, those of lower social classes around AD 620-700. Scenes show people eating, cooking, and carrying goods. The murals have hieroglyphic captions naming the actors such as “maize-gruel person,” “maize-grain person,””salt person,” “tobacco person,” and “clay vessel person.” It’s almost as if the murals were painted by an ethnographer who set out to document everyday life of ordinary people.

Photo, “Estela 50 de Iztapa”, from Flickr and Creative Commons.

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