Decapitated Elite Maya Uncovered at the Maya site of Moral-Reforma in Tabasco

May 9, 2023

INAH working at the Moral-Reforma Archaeological site in Balancán, Tabasco has uncovered 13 human burials at the stairway of a temple-pyramid, with some skulls showing decapitation marks. Eight appear to be young men seemingly decapitated as part of a consecration ceremony. The burials date to 2,000 years ago. They appear to be elite individuals.

The discovery was made to the adjacent Maya train route construction. INAH was excavating and consolidating work on Structure 18 which dates to 600-900 CE. The remains were laid out in two groups, with the older group dating to 2,000 years ago. The buried individuals had cranial deformation performed on them at an early age called tabular deformation to show their elite status. And two of them had jade inlaid teeth.

Eight of there 13 buried were decapitated and dismembered with their parts placed separately.

The older group of individuals were arranged in a seated position and were grouped with other individuals brought from earlier graves. These dated to 300-250 CE. There were 567 pieces of shell, jade beads, shell rings, projectile points, vessels, perforated shells, and bone needles laid as offerings with the individuals.

The Moral-Reforma site linked the Guatemala Peten with the Gulf of Mexico in terms of trade. It was founded in 600-900 CE and inhabited till 900-1200 CE and has has several plazas, buildings, and structures.

The sacrificed individuals are linked to the Maya god of death.

Heritage Daily has the report here:

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