A taphonomic approach to late classic Maya mortuary practices at Xuenkal, Yucatán, Mexico

Vera Tiesler, Andrea Cucina, T. Kam Manahan, T. Douglas Price, Trac Ardren, James H. Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

15 Scopus citations


Following a brief introduction to mortuary practices in Prehispanic Maya society, we outline the analytical procedures followed during the excavation and laboratory investigation of five burial assemblages from the Late Classic period site of Xuenkal, Yucatán, Mexico. A detailed account of a sequence of primary and secondary interments is provided with a focus on taphonomic and biovital information, emphasizing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, especially human taphonomy, for the reconstruction of complex Maya mortuary treatments. Our results show that bodies of the dead or their parts followed surprisingly long and complex funerary paths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-379
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010



  • Bioarchaeology
  • Isotopes
  • Maya
  • Mortuary practices
  • Osteology
  • Taphonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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