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August 25, 2018

Mayan Spondylus Shell Collar

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From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Spondylus — a shell that would have been of considerable complexity to acquire — was often closely associated with women in the ancient Americas.

We know of its use in an array of ritual events, and it was closely tied with fertility, always a critical basis of elite power.

This remarkable collar made of 380 circular disks cut from the characteristic red cortex of Spondylus princeps was one of the rich offerings that accompanied the burial of a royal woman at Calakmul, Campeche, Mexico.

She was placed on a wooden litter, wrapped in strips of fabric soaked in rubber to form a funerary bundle, and surrounded by offerings of sixteen ceramic vessels, several textiles, and honeycombs. 

Her body was adorned with ornaments made of jade, shell, bone, and flint. 

She may have been the wife of the ruler Yuknoom Ch'een II (CE 636-86), the self-proclaimed founder of the Serpent Dynasty at Calakmul.

CE 600-660

12.6"H x 26"W x 0.75"D

Museo Arqueológico de Campeche, Fuerte de San Miguel

August 25, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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