March 13, 2010 Dr. Wendy Bacon,  "Xultun: A Cyclical Pattern of Stelae Erection Over 250 Years"

          Although Xultun’s 450 years of elaborately inscribed monuments have been known since the 1920s, the site remains a mystery, thanks mainly to looting during the 1970s.  Positioned strategically, midway from Calakmul to its ally Caracol yet close to rival Tikal, Xultun must have been pulled into the conflict between these lowland superpowers. The effects on Xultun can be seen in the history of monument erection there.  In one plaza, the kings of ancient Xultun placed 7 stelae in a pattern, cyclical in both time and in space, over 250 years. Temporally, the stelae commemorated the endings of time periods one and one-half k’atuns, or about 30 years apart.  Spatially, the stelae were erected in a counterclockwise circuit around the plaza, causing confusion in dating them only recently resolved.  The temporal and spatial cyclicity of Xultun’s monuments has implications for how the ancient Maya conceptualized time itself.  New interest in the site of  San Bartolo, only 8 km away, might prompt a more thorough investigation of Xultun.

      Wendy Bacon is a native of New Hope, Pennsylvania, and has worked in cultural resource management as well as in various departments of the University Museum: the Archives, the American Section, Membership, and even the Pyramid Shop.  She has excavated at historic and prehistoric sites in Saint Joseph, Missouri and Essington, Pennsylvania as well as at Nauvoo, Illinois, where she had the honor of emptying the privy of Joseph Smith!  Dr. Bacon also excavated at the Maya sites of Nohmul, Pusilha, ChacBen Kax and Santa Rita Corozal in Belize.  She has enjoyed speaking to a variety of groups such as the Little People of America, the American Anthropological Society, the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, and at Cornell University.  Dr. Bacon earned a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, and lives near Ithaca, New York.

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