This year marks the second in a row that an Arts & Sciences competition was included in the War Point count. The East and Middle were each represented by 15 Champions, including allies. While Kingdoms were allowed to include members of the Order of the Laurel among their champions this year, there was a limit to the number of Laurels per Kingdom. Points were awarded based on votes from members of the populace who held a Kingdom level or higher A&S award like the Sycamore, Fleur, or Laurel.
Since this war was East vs. Middle, only five slots were available for Æthelmearc artisans on the Eastern side, but we were mightily represented by Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen’s woodblock printing; knitting and fiber arts by Mistress Irene von Schmetterling (who received her Laurel at Kingdom court on Tuesday of War week); soaps made by Lady Elska Fjarfell, who is our current Kingdom A&S Champion; glass made by Lady Kalishka Peredslava; and ceramic tiles made by Lord Ian Campbell of Glen Mor.Click to view slideshow.
According to King Byron, “If my memory serves, the 15 Champions of the Midrealm and its allies scored 411 points, while the 15 Champions of the East and its allies scored 526. The 5 AEthelmearc Champions were responsible for 262 of those [Eastern] points. It was wonderful to stand with HRM Avelina of the East at the conclusion of the competition and congratulate all 30 of the Champions on their tremendous work.”
His Majesty further noted that the silver lining of martial activities being cancelled due to excessive heat that afternoon was that He was able to spend much of his time at the A&S competition.
The slideshow below includes samples of the many other wonderful entries.Click to view slideshow.
All photos by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
A metal detectorist has discovered a Roman phallus charm in a field near Horncastle, Lincolnshire. Made of copper-alloy, the phallus weighs 11.6 grams and is 45.41 mm (1.8 inches) long. It’s curved in profile, with two spheres at one end representing testicles and two thin grooves run down the length of the underside with notched ribs between them. It was worn as a pendant from a loop in the center. Comparison with similar examples suggest a date of 120-300 A.D.
Phalluses were widespread in the Roman empire. They were talismans of protection against the evil eye, a curse that could be inflicted by individuals or by entire tribes that were believed to be collectively well-endowed with evil eye powers. The phallic deity Fascinus was thought to be protect against such spells, so his small, portable representatives performed the same function. They were extremely popular with the Roman soldiers. They were worn as pendants on necklaces and as decoration on cavalry horse harnesses.
Because they were so common in the army, phallus amulets can be found all over the empire. Britain is no exception. In fact, it’s particularly rich in phalluses. The largest collection of phallus amulets with the fist or the “fig sign” warding gesture at one end was discovered in Camulodunum, modern-day Colchester in Essex, the first capital of Roman Britain. Very few have been found in Lincolnshire, however.
The Horncastle phallus is similar to several horse harness pendants, but it could have been worn around the neck by a civilian. It wasn’t found on the site of a fort or other known army encampment. Phallus pendants were worn by adults and children — they were considered very effective against harm to a child — with no connection to the military.
It doesn’t have quite the rarity and cachet of the gold phallus pendant found in Hillington, Norfolk, in 2011, and since it’s not made of precious metals, it won’t be declared treasure trove which means the finder gets to keep the piece. That’s way better than gold, as far as I’m concerned. If I found something like that, I’d wear it every day.
The excavation at the Alamo has unearthed an intriguing fragment from the same period of the doomed defense of the fort that has been immortalized in film, literature and legend. It’s the broken tip of a sword, a piece about six inches long from a type of sabre known as a briquet which was manufactured in France from the Napoleonic era through 1860 and was sold to the Spanish and Mexican infantry. It would have been issued to a non-commissioned officer in the Mexican army.
The object was discovered in the area of the south wall gate where the adobe bricks were discovered. That was considered the weakest part of the fort and it saw a great deal of military action, but this is the first confirmed military artifact recovered thus far at the south wall.
Military artifacts expert Sam Nesmith, director of the Texas Institute and Museum of Military History, identified it as a Mexican briquet. He dates by its design to between October 1835 and February 1836. Until December of 1835, the Alamo was held by General Martin Perfecto de Cos, General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s brother-in-law, who ordered extensive modifications and fortifications, including strengthening the south gate right. After 56 days of siege, Cos surrendered San Antonio and the Alamo to Texian forces in December. Just a hundred men held the fort for the next two months. In the chaos of the period, requests for reinforcements went unfulfilled by the Texas government.
On February 23rd, Santa Anna, Cos and the Mexican army arrived in San Antonio and turned the tables. They besieged the Alamo for 13 days. On March 6, 1836, they attacked. Colonel Juan Morales was tasked with assaulting the south wall and gate with 100 infantry. The defenders, Davy Crockett and his Tennesseans, put up a strong fight, forcing Morales’ men to shift to the southwest corner of the palisade. They broke through there. Morales’ men turned the cannon onto the barracks and to the artillery installation on the roof of the Alamo church. Davy Crockett and James Bowie were killed in this assault.
If the dating proves accurate, this sword tip could have broken off during the famous battle itself. Nesmith doesn’t think so, though. The torquing and pattern of breakage suggested to him that the sword may have been being used as a tool in construction causing the tip to break. Somebody, perhaps during Cos’ fortifications of the wall in late 1835, could have reached for the sword as a handy device only to inadvertently break it. It wouldn’t be the first time. Another sword tip was unearthed in the Main Plaza in 2007 where Cos had his troops dig a defensive entrenchment in December of 1835.
The sword tip will go to the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas San Antonio. They don’t know yet if they will clean the corrosion to restore it to a more recognizably shiny-swordy condition. The process is expensive, so they’ll have to see if there’s room in the budget.
There’s an excellent video in which an archaeologist explains the tip fragment in detail here. I can’t embed it because of cursed autoplay, but it’s just a couple of minutes long and well worth a look.
The East won all three armored field battles today.
The fencing field battles were split, with two won by the Mid and one by the East, giving the war point to the Midrealm.
Results are courtesy of Mistress Anastasia, HRH Brion, and Mistress Alys Mackintosh.
Filed under: Heavy List, Pennsic, Rapier Tagged: heavy list, Pennsic, Pennsic 45, pennsic war points, Rapier, War Points
The East won all three populace archery war points. Results for each shoot are below.
Results courtesy of Mistress Ygraine of Kellswood.
Filed under: Archery, Pennsic Tagged: archery, Pennsic, Pennsic 45, pennsic war points, War Points
Baron Mael Eoin and Baroness Ysmay of Bhakail bought a themed chess set a few years ago and sought a purpose for the set. Realizing that one of their populace had moved from the Barony of Flaming Gryphon in the Midrealm, their Excellencies of Bhakail issued a challenge. At Pennsic 43, Baron Dafydd of Flaming Gryphon sat across the table from Baron Mael Eoin, accompanied by three of Baron Dafydd’s kegs. Three and half hours later, the Midrealm emerged victorious.
Bhakail then sought a contender from the East for a rematch at Pennsic 44. Baron Jean Paul of Concordia of the Snows pointed out the bout was fire against fire, with flaming Salamander fighting the flaming Gryphon, and suggested a different tack. Baron met Baron once more the following year and, fierce though it was, the match once again saw Flaming Gryphon victorious.
This year, Flaming Gryphon sat once more against Bhakail. Baron Mael Eoin met the newly invested Baron Edward of Flaming Gryphon as numerous Barons and Baronesses of the Middle and Eastern realms attended Bhakail’s annual Period Games and Bardic Night during War week. Despite a worrying opening, Bhakail rallied for a strong middle game. Ultimately, however, the Flaming Gryphon proved victorious and the East succumbed once more to the might of the Midrealm over the Game of Kings.
Looking forward, Bhakail encourages all Eastern and Midrealm Baronies to consider finding gaming Champions to join in the tradition; we will of course continue to foster friendship and entertainment between our Landed Barons and Baronesses through the traditional match but will hope to see exhibition matches between numerous Champions, if we may.
Here’s to more gaming and next year, we hope to bring the chess set back to the East!
Baron Mael Eoin mac Echuid, OP
Submitted by Baron Bhakail, Mael Eoin mac Echuid, OP; edited by Efeilian ferch Owain
Filed under: Pennsic
A large Roman-era mosaic floor depicting chariot racing has been revealed in full after a year of excavations in the village of Akaki outside Nicosia, Cyprus. Excavations on the site began in 2014 when the remains of a large cistern 10 x 14 meters (33 x 46 feet) in dimension were discovered. In the summer of 2015, a section of a mosaic was unearthed on the south side of the cistern. Its large size, exceptional quality and very rare depiction of a chariot race distinguished it as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Cyprus.
This year’s dig has exposed almost all of the mosaic. It is 11 meters long and four meters wide (36 by 13 feet) and was likely part of the floor of a large villa. It dates to the first half of the 4th century. Much of it is in a good state of preservation. The ornately decorated scene shows four quadrigae (chariots drawn by a team of four horses as in Ben Hur), possibly representing the four factions of professional racers in the Roman world — the Reds, Whites, Greens, and Blues — competing in a race at a circus or hippodrome. The chariots race around the spina, the median running down the center of the track. The charioteers are all standing and each quadriga is labeled with two inscriptions that are probably the names of the charioteer and the lead horse.
At the eastern end of the spina is the meta, the turning point where the greatest concentration of accidents, often fatal to rider and horses, occurred as the driver attempted to maneuver four galloping horses and one two-wheeled vehicle tightly around the curve. The meta is shown as a circular platform with three cones, each topped with an egg. The spina is decorated with an aedicule (a small temple) on one end and three columns, each topped with a dolphin with water pouring out of its mouth, in the middle. Standing between the chariots on the track are two men, one holding a whip, the other a vessel of water. There is also a figure on horseback.
The scene is encased in borders of intricate geometric designs. At the western end of the floor is another mosaic, nine medallions arranged in a circle, each holding the bust of a female figure. While this section has yet to be fully cleaned, already it’s clear that the nine figures are the muses, each identifiable from the symbols they hold.
Racing scenes like this one are extremely rare in the eastern provinces of the Roman empire, and even in the west they can be counted in single digits. Only two have been discovered in Greece and a total of seven have been found elsewhere in the empire (North Africa, France and Spain). The find is particularly exciting because it is the only such mosaic ever found in Cyprus, and it was discovered inland, about 20 miles west of Nicosia. The vast majority of Roman archaeological material has been found along the coast of the island.
Speaking to journalists, Director of the Department of Antiquities Marina Ieronymidou said: “It is an extremely important finding, because of the technique and because of the theme. It is unique in Cyprus since the presence of this mosaic floor in a remote inland area provides important new information on that period in Cyprus and adds to our knowledge of the use of mosaic floors on the island.”
Excavations will continue next May when archaeologists hope to unearth more of the mosaic floor and the villa. Until then, the floor will be covered with protective temporary structures.
Today’s Arts & Sciences war point featured displays from 30 artisans from around the known world. The East’s artisans showed their work with furniture, casting, clothing, metalwork, glass beads, calligraphy and illumination, and a medieval fiber study by the Princess of Acre (who was selected for the war point as a citizen of the East).
The final point tally was 527 points for the East and 445 points for the Middle, giving the war point to the East. Participants in the judging consisted of individuals with a Kingdom-level arts and sciences award, and the participants came largely from the Midrealm (110), Atlantia (73), East (72), Aethelmearc (50), and Ealdormere (26).
Stefan of Silverforge displayed his work with furniture and metalcasting.
Elena Hylton showed a 1480’s Florentine Woman’s Ensemble.
Ulfgeirr Ragnarsson the Nice displayed his metalwork.
Elysabeth Underhill displayed her work with glass beads.
Lada Monguligin displayed her scroll work, including both calligraphy and illumination.
Vivian de Dunbar, Princess of the Kingdom of Acre, displayed a medieval fiber study.
Reporting by Mistress Anastasia and Mistress A’isha bint Jamil, photos by Mistress Anastasia.
Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Pennsic Tagged: Arts and Sciences, Pennsic, Pennsic 45, pennsic war points
With martial activities halted due to heat, please stop by the Great Hall to support the artisans competing in the A&S War Point. From 9-3, anyone with a kingdom-level A&S award may vote on the displays, and from 3-4, artisans will be available to discuss their works. Results will be announced at 4.
Filed under: Pennsic Tagged: a&s, Pennsic, Pennsic 45, War Points
All martial activities at Pennsic have been halted until dusk due to heat.
Filed under: Pennsic
A tiny gold bead unearthed at a prehistoric site outside the town of Pazardzhik, southern Bulgaria, may be the oldest known gold artifact. It was discovered two weeks ago in the remains of a small house. The bead, a small strip of gold wrapped into a ring, weighs just 15 centigrams (.005 of an ounce) and is 4 millimeters (1/8 inch) in diameter. It dates to around 4600 B.C., although how that date was determined is not clear from the news reports.
The oldest known gold jewelry currently on the books was also found in Bulgaria, in the Copper Age necropolis at Varna. An enormous quantity of gold was found in burials and cenotaphs at the Varna necropolis, more than 3,000 artifacts weighing a total of six kilos. One grave alone, grave 43, held more gold than has ever been discovered from that period in the whole world combined. The Varna treasure dates to between 4600 and 4200 B.C., so there’s enough overlap that the Pazardzhik bead can’t be absolutely confirmed as the oldest with current dating technologies.
Nonetheless, one archaeologist at least is certain the tiny bead predates the great treasure by at least 200 years.
“I have no doubt that it is older than the Varna gold,” Yavor Boyadzhiev, associated professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, said.
“It’s a really important discovery. It is a tiny piece of gold but big enough to find its place in history.”
The settlement in which the bead was found, known as Tell Yunatsite after a nearby village, is believed to have been founded by descendants of Anatolians who migrated to Europe from Asia Minor the 7th millennium B.C. and over the next thousand years developed metal processing know-how into a full-fledged industry. In the 5th millennium B.C., urban settlements grew around these burgeoning industrial centers. They are the oldest towns in Europe, and Tell Yunatsite may well be the oldest, with artifacts dating to 4900 B.C.
So far archaeologists have unearthed between 10 and 12 hectares (25-30 acres) of the settlement, just about a third of the tell, and the remains of defensive wall that would have been about nine feet high when it still stood. Little of the homes and possible workplaces have survived, but there is evidence of specialization and larger-scale production, for instance seven millstones to grind grain were found in one room. There are streets, public buildings, closely-knit dwellings, even clearly discernible uptown and downtown neighborhoods.
The settlement is known as the “Town of Birds” because of the more than 150 ceramic bird figurines unearthed at the site. The preponderance of the birds depicted sitting upright rather than in flight or other natural positions suggests the townspeople had a cultic devotion to their feathered friends. The Town of Birds was destroyed around 4100 B.C., probably by invading Indo-European tribes from the northeast. They did not have sophisticated urban culture, but they had horses and they had weapons and the defensive walls were not enough to keep them out. Skeletons of women, children and the elderly with holes inflicted by axes have been found strewn on the floors of structures, suggesting a deliberate massacre of non-combatant residents.
The bead will be studied now in order to confirm its age. Once the analysis is complete, it will be put on display at the Regional Historical Museum of Pazardzhik.
The archery champions of the East defeated the Mid today, taking 2 of the 3 shoots. Complete results are below.
10 station roving range
Long Distance Walk Up
Results provided by Mistress Ygraine of Kellswood.
Edited Aug. 12, 2016 to clarify the outcome.
Filed under: Archery, Pennsic Tagged: archery, Pennsic, Pennsic 45, pennsic champions
The East emerged victorious in today’s Thrown Weapons Champions war point, with a final score of 163 to 161.
Champions represented nine kingdoms, and since the Mid was unable to field a full 12 champions, other throwers were allowed to step in to complete the team.
Trystan der Fackeltrayer of the Mid had the highest score, at 24 points. There was a three-way tie between William, Breccan Cu, and Bubba of Wolfhou for the second highest score, with 21 points each.
It should also be reported that Princess Anna of the East was seen departing the championship with an arm full of throwing axes and a fiercely maniacal giggle. The Gazette sends its best hopes to Prince Brion.
This report is courtesy of Jarl Thorson. The Gazette thanks him for his contribution.
Filed under: Pennsic, Thrown Weapons Tagged: Pennsic, Pennsic 45, pennsic champions, thrown weapons
Extremely rare curse tablets made of gold and silver instead of the usual lead have been unearthed at the ancient site of Viminacium in Serbia, about 60 miles east of Belgrade. Archaeologists were excavating land adjacent to power plant before construction of an addition to the plant when they found a large family tomb decorated with colorful wall paintings. There were multiple rooms containing multiple burials from the middle of the 3rd century A.D. through the 5th.
Buried with one of the skeletons dating to the 4th century were two small lead cylinders holding three rolled up sheets, one of silver, two of gold. The silver and gold sheets had writing and symbols inscribed on them. One of them has Greek letters but is written in Aramaic, not Greek. Archaeologists have identified an intriguing combination of names on it: Baal, Yahweh, and Thobarabau, Seneseilam and Sesengenfaranges, three deities/demons (depending on whether your perspective is polytheistic or Christian) native to what is now Syria. A curse tablet inviking the powers of both Baal and Yahweh is unprecedented.
The other two aren’t inscribed with letters at all, but unknown symbols. Traditionally curse tablets (defixiones in Latin) were written in Greek or Latin with some ununderstandable words. These were voces mysticae, belonging to no known human language, meant to appeal to the deities and demons in words only they could understand. They also used charakteres, symbols believed to represent astrological signs or cosmic forces, or, in the case of Christian curses, angels and other heavenly host. The silver curse tablet is the only one ever discovered written solely in symbols.
Found throughout the Greco-Roman world even well into the Christian era, curse tablets called on spirits, demonic or divine powers to control a target — destroy an enemy, force restitution of stolen goods, get someone in the sack or make the opposing team lose. The tablets were thin sheets of lead on which invocations against the targets were scratched. They would then be rolled or folded up and placed in a relevant area usually below the ground, graves, wells, temples, sanctuaries or the homes of the cursed.
The earliest known extant curse tablets were found in the Greek colony of Selinunte in Sicily (modern-day Castelvetrano where they grow the greatest bright green olives) and date to the early 5th century B.C. The 22 Selinute tablets were mostly litigation curses intended to kneecap opponents in a lawsuit. Other popular types of curses include ones against rival sports teams, rival businesses, thieves and love or sex spells. Men tended to deploy curse tablets to arouse women’s passion, while women mostly used curses to stimulate men’s affection.
About 1,500 ancient curse tablets have been found. The vast majority are made of lead, some of lead mixed with tin and copper. A tiny fraction are inscribed on precious metals. These are the first curse tablets ever discovered in Serbia. It’s a testament to the wealth of Viminacium that the only defixionis ever found there are extremely rare examples in gold and silver.
Viminacium was the capital of the Roman province of Moesia Superior. Its strategic position near the border with the Goths made it one of the most important cities in the empire. It had a permanent military camp and was a prosperous trade center. Excavations since its rediscovery in the late 19th century have unearthed the largest Roman amphitheater in the Balkans, 40,000 artifacts, 700 of them gold and silver, and more than 14,000 Roman-era graves (the largest Roman cemetery ever discovered), some of which contained extremely fine and rare jewels, one of which contained unique gold and silver curse tablets.
The section of the cemetery in which the tablets were unearthed is also home to a number of Christian graves, and archaeologists don’t rule out that some of the dead in the tomb may have been Christian. Orthodoxy wasn’t cemented in the 4th century and the syncretism evinced in the tablet could be the work of a Christian drawing in influences from adjacent, albeit seemingly conflicting, beliefs.
Several Æthelmearc subjects shared their arts in the annual Known World A&S Display at Pennsic last Sunday afternoon:
Photos by Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina (Chris Adler-France)
Pennsic 45 Archery Champions Team
The 10 alternates are:
Names reported by Mistress Ygraine of Kellswood
Edited Aug.12, 2016 by Ygraine to add an alternate.
Filed under: Archery, Pennsic Tagged: archery champions team, Pennsic 45, pennsic champions
NEWS FROM PENNSIC:
THL Kieran MacRae received a Writ for a Laurel last night at Pennsic. Elevation to be at Agincourt in October.
Send your Pennsic news and photos to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to let us know who took any photos.
Archaeologists excavating the Utah Test and Training Range inside the Hill Air Force Base have discovered a 12,300-year-old hearth that sheds new light on the earliest inhabitants of Utah. The 2,675-square-mile training range is in the arid West Desert of Utah, which is why it was selected for training exercises and bomb testing, but it was once a lush wetland, a network of rivers, lakes and marshes that was home to a great variety of flora and fauna.
The West Desert is a potentially inestimable source of archaeological information because it was thriving wetland from the release of Lake Bonneville about 14,500 years ago until about 8,500 years ago. That window of 8,000 years is the only time before the modern era when people lived in the oasis while the area around it began to dry up. It also has geologic features that give archaeologists the rare opportunity to date artifacts found there. Black mats, for instance, decayed plant material in ancient marshland that are now layers of black soil, can be radiocarbon dated. They also preserve plants, fish, shells and other organic remains which open a window into the prehistoric environment.
The Air Force has worked with the Utah State Historic Preservation Office for years to identify and preserve archaeological materials on the range. Because it’s such a large area in which cultural treasures could easily be lost or destroyed by military activities, archaeologists don’t wait to hear about random discoveries. They survey areas with the highest likelihood of archaeological remains as calculated by a probability model based on previous finds, comparable environments and existing research. Between four and eight square miles of the range are surveyed every year.
Last year, the archaeological team surveyed several thousand acres pinpointed for exploration. The hearth was identified in one of those digs. Other artifacts were discovered elsewhere in the surveyed area, but the hearth overshadows them all in its significance. This year excavators returned to the hearth site. They recovered more than 60 objects, including tools, charcoal, duck and goose bones, tobacco seeds and lithics from tool manufacture. It’s a uniquely rich find.
The significance of the find helped the archaeologists determine that people occupied the region many thousands of years ago.
“Then there are questions about the significance of these people,” [Far Western senior archaeologist and lead for the current project Daron] Duke said. “They really are the first occupants of the Great Basin that we can demonstrate. If we went from the earliest accepted date of man in the Americas, approximately 13,400 years ago, people seemed to have dispersed all across the continent within a short, 500-year timespan.”
According to Duke, the first few people inhabiting this area moved around a lot.
“We do know that by the time of 13,000 years ago, 400 years after people are in North America, we get evidence of people in this area and the Great Basin,” he said. “The people then seemed to be pretty transitory. They might have seen megafauna (large animals) and possibly were hunting mammoths and giant forms of bison.”
The tobacco seeds are extraordinary as well. They are by thousands of years the earliest evidence of tobacco use. The next time tobacco appears on the archaeological record is about 3,000 years ago, a gap of more than 9,000 years.
After the initial finds, the team dug a larger trench around the fire pit and found refuse all around it, from people tossing away the trash while seated around the fire. They also found a spear point.
“Here in this location, we see possibly a more generalized diet of several species of ducks, which is not surprising [for people] working and living in a wetland,” [D. Craig Young, Far Western senior geoarchaeologist,] said. “Also of significance is that these people were carrying their big game tool kits, as evidenced by the big point found right next to the hearth. It’s about 8 to 10 centimeters long and one wouldn’t think that was being used to capture ducks. It could have been used to process the water fowl, but those large points tend to be associated with hunting of large game.”
The objects discovered at the fire pit will be conserved and possibly displayed at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a lord from the Maya Snake dynasty inside a temple at the ancient site of Xunantunich in western Belize. At 4.5 by 2.4 meters (14’9″ by 7’10″), it’s one of the largest burial chambers ever found in Belize, and is the largest royal one. It was discovered 16-26 feet underground, buried under layers dirt and debris beneath the central stairway of a pyramidal structure.
Inside were the remains of an adult male between 20 and 30 years old when he died. He was lying on his back with his head pointing south. Initial osteological analysis found that he was fit and well-muscled with no obvious signs of disease or fatal injury. Buried with him were jaguar and deer bones, six jade beads, 13 obsidian blades and 36 ceramic vessels. Two other offering caches were found at the base of the stairway. They contained nine obsidian and 28 chert flints and artifacts known as eccentrics which are flaked and chipped around the edges like flints, but instead of having a functional design are carved in symbolic animal or plant shapes.
While there is no direct evidence of who was buried in this tomb, it had to be someone of great importance. Maya tombs are usually “intrusive,” built into or dug out of pre-existing structures. This tomb was built inside the temple from the beginning, a very rare design in Maya architecture. Two hieroglyphic panels were also discovered, not in the burial chamber but in the central staircase, and those panels may be the most exciting part of this very exciting find.
The Snake dynasty was one of the dominant dynasties of the Maya Classic Period (200–1000 A.D.). Its seat was the city-state of Calakmul, now in southern Mexico, but through conquest, alliances and strategic marriages, its area of influence extended south to Guatemala and Belize.
Tikal’s influence in the region suffered a devastating blow in 562 when Tikal’s Lord Wak Chan K’awiil (Lord Double Bird) was defeated by Lord Yajaw Te’ K’inich II (Lord Water) of Caracol, an important city 25 miles south of Xunantunich. The defeat kicked off 120 years of decline in Tikal, with significant population loss, destruction of monuments and no new buildings erected for the entire period.
Calakmul was more than glad to step into the breach. In 619, Lord K’an II of Caracol formally allied his polity to Calakmul and its mighty Snake Lords (and Lady Snake Lords). During the 40 years of Lord K’an II’s reign, Caracol grew in population, architecture and size. He also went to war with Naranjo, a former ally with a mutual Calakmul connection, no fewer than four times, killing its king during one of those wars. To celebrate his long reign and many victories, in 642 Lord K’an commissioned an elaborately carved hieroglyphic stairway at Naranjo.
K’an II died in 658 A.D. and a couple of decades later, Naranjo reestablished its regional prominence when it decisively defeated Caracol in 680 A.D. Lord K’an’s hieroglyphic stairway was dismantled but not destroyed. Its symbolic power was destroyed, however, because most of the panels were reassembled out of order and four of them were scattered so the hieroglyphics no longer made sense and K’an’s gloating was rendered meaningless. One of the four missing panels was unearthed at the archaeological site of Ucanal in northern Guatemala. Another was found at Caracol. Archaeologists believe the two panels found at Xunantunich are the last missing pieces of the stairway, the first and the last, no less, alpha and omega. That makes it a hugely significant discovery for Mayan epigraphy.
The panel hieroglyphs indicate the stairway was built in 642 (earlier estimates put it at 637) and note the death of Lady Batz’ Ek’, Lord K’an’s mother. Her titles suggest she was probably born in Yakha, a nearby Snake-ruled city in Guatemala, and was married to the lord of Caracol to cement their alliance.
[Epigrapher Dr. Christophe] Helmke said the panels “tell us of the existence of a king of the dynasty that was murky figure at best, who is clearly named as Waxaklajuun Ubaah Kan”. This ruler reigned sometime between 630 and 640AD, and may have been Kan’s half-brother.
“This means that there were two contenders to the throne, both carrying the same dynastic title, which appears to have been read Kanu’l Ajaw, ‘king of the place where snakes abound’,” he wrote in an email.
The panels clarify what Helmke called a “tumultuous phase of the snake-head dynasty” and explain how it splintered between cities before dominating Maya politics in the region.
The panels identify the origin of the snake dynasty at Dzibanche, in the Yucatan peninsula of modern Mexico, and refer to the family’s move to their capital of Calakmul.
Allied Champions Battle (1 point)
Unbelted Champions Battle (1 point)
Belted Champions Battle (1 point)
Heroic Champions Battle (1 point)
Rapier Melee Champions Battle (1 point)
Rapier Heroic Champions Battle (1 point)
Photos by Mistress Leonete D’angely.
Filed under: Pennsic Tagged: Pennsic, pennsic war points, War Points