Finding Drama in Bones: Looking Beyond Identification in Ritual Faunal
James E. Brady, Melanie Saldaña, Joseph Orozco

The Midnight Terror Cave faunal assemblage is unusual in that fish make up 21% of the vertebrate fauna, including four individual parrotfish (Sparisoma viride). This analysis examines why this species was selected and explores a performative interpretation that contextualizes these remains within ancient Maya ritual drama. In addition to being part of the “cult of the sea”, the parrotfish was selected because of its blue or green color which symbolizes water, rain, and abundance. The fish’s color fades quickly after death so it is clear that the fish had to be transported alive from the sea coast to the cave. The requirements for the trip are outlined. The analysis lays out the expenditures made for elite ritual and provides a glimpse into the drama of such sacrifices.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaa.v7n1a4