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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-23-09 01:24 PM
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Artifacts shed light on the common Maya
Posted on Mon, Nov. 23, 2009
Artifacts shed light on the common Maya

Newly discovered murals and new insights into ancient artifacts in Penns collection reveal much about the everyday people, not just the elites.

By Tom Avril
Inquirer Staff Writer

The writings and illustrations of the ancient Maya civilization have told us primarily about the elite classes and religion, with rich depictions of headdress-wearing kings and mystical jaguars and bats.

Scenes of everyday life from the Central American people, on the other hand, are largely unknown - until now.

A University of Pennsylvania scholar is part of a team that is deciphering newly discovered murals in Mexico, with images of commoners handling maize, clay vessels, and salt.

Separately, scientists have extracted new information from Maya artifacts that have been in Penn's collection for decades - for example, analyzing ceramic pots for traces of ritual chocolate-based beverages.

The various findings are a reminder that when an object is unearthed, the science of archaeology has only just begun, says Elin C. Danien, curator of "Painted Metaphors," a Maya exhibit running through Jan. 31 at Penn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Academics have spent more than a century studying this advanced civilization, which flourished for ages in what are now called Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, yet much remains unknown.

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