JULY 14, 2021 — Nature, Power, and Maya Royals, an exhibition of 34 artworks and objects discovered by UTSA researchers in two royal Maya burials at the ancient city of Buenavista del Cayo, Belize, is now on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA). This exhibition is the first time the selection of works will appear for public viewing. This exhibition is an exciting collaboration between UTSA, SAMA, and the Belize Institute of Archaeology.
Finely painted ceramic vessels that display kings and symbols of authority, as well as shell pendants, earrings, and bracelets worn by a king, were found in 2014 and 2019 by a team of UTSA archaeologists and led by Lutcher Brown Endowed Professor Kathryn Brown and Jason Yaeger, President’s Endowed Professor of Anthropology at UTSA and senior associate dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts.
“The objects in the exhibition are priceless to us and to the government of Belize for what they tell us about the ancient Maya,” Yaeger said. “This show presents a wonderful opportunity to grow connections with institutions across San Antonio and Belize.”
This lid with a monkey-shaped handle dates back to 450 A.D. It was recovered by UTSA archaeologists in a Maya royal tomb in Belize and is being displayed in Nature, Power, and Maya Royals at the San Antonio Museum of Art.
The discovery is particularly extraordinary because looters had previously trenched the building in which one of the royal burials was located, missing it by just a few inches. Finding the site and objects following the looters’ destructive actions is incredibly lucky and makes the discovery particularly special.
“We are delighted to share these beautiful and precious artworks,” said Bernadette Cap, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Postdoctoral Fellow at SAMA and curator of the exhibition. “Visitors will also be able to view images taken during our excavation in Belize. The recovery of the objects such as these from known, well-documented locations provide essential information for interpreting similar Maya art held by museums.”
The artworks date between 450 and 800 A.D., a period when Maya kings and queens reigned over large populations and lived in elaborately designed cities. The exhibition highlights how two Maya rulers commissioned artwork that featured commanding iconography to express and legitimate their power. For example, a common theme in rulers’ art was the portrayal of jaguar pelts worn as clothing and used as decorative elements of royal palaces. The Maya admired the jaguar for its strength and skills as an apex predator, and rulers retained exclusive rights over jaguar imagery and products.
One of the most outstanding pieces in the exhibition is a large, elaborately carved pendant made of marine shell. Incised Maya glyphs appear on it and have been deciphered to read, “This is the pendant of Naah Uti’ K’ab, king of Komkom.” The discovery of the pendant confirms that the buried individual is a king. Given the context of recovery, Komkom is likely the original name of the site now called Buenavista del Cayo. Maya texts at nearby sites state that Komkom had been attacked and conquered in the 600s and 700s. The shell pendant dates to around 450, however, and thus provides the earliest reference to the site of Komkom.
Each summer, the UTSA Department of Anthropology brings approximately 10 undergraduates and eight graduate students to Belize to gain valuable, first-hand experience in archaeological research and collect information for their theses and dissertations.
Nature, Power, and Maya Royals: Recent Discoveries from the Site of Buenavista del Cayo, Belize will be on view through February 27, 2022. It was organized by the San Antonio Museum of Art in collaboration with the Belize National Institute of Culture and History’s Institute of Archaeology and scholars in the UTSA Department of Anthropology. It is supported by the Gloria Galt Endowment Fund, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and UTSA Maya Archaeology Excellence Endowment. The UTSA excavations that recovered the objects were conducted with the permission of the Belize Institute of Archaeology and funding from the Alphawood Foundation and Termini Endowment for Maya Archaeology.
UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.
Dr. Michael Doyle has had an immense impact on the field of catalysis and organic chemistry. Join in a one-day symposium. In order to honor Dr. Doyle’s colossal career accomplishments with his upcoming retirement, we are holding a one day symposium eventRiklin Auditorium (FS 1.406,) Frio Street Building, Downtown Campus
The San Antonio Military Health and Universities Research Forum (SURF) attracts presenters from around the nation to showcase the work of students, trainees, faculty and staff. The mission of the SURF conference is to “advance research collaborations among academic, military, and industry partners to improve health outcomes and readiness.”TBD
The NHERI Summer Institute is a free event for early-career faculty, NHERI Graduate Student Council, K-12 educators from the San Antonio area, engineers, and researchers to learn more about the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) community.La Villita Room (DBB 1.116,) Durango Building, Main Campus
Connect with peer mentors and fellow first-gen and transfer students, and learn how you can join UTSA's First-Gen programs for the Fall 2023 semester.Mentoring Hub (MS 2.02.02,) Multidisciplinary Studies Building, Main Campus
Building the Dual Language Leader Symposium will provide a safe space for current and aspiring leaders to learn best practices, theories, policies, and systems that support a dual language bilingual education.UTSA Southwest Campus, 300 Augusta St.
Streaming of Spray the Word that will conclude with a discussion with San Antonio's Poet Laureate, Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson.Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328,) Buena Vista Street Building, Downtown Campus
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at our very own street fair - Calle UTSA. We will have activities, performances, food, music, and pinatas to break open! All free to UTSA students, faculty, and staff.Student Union Paseo, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.