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Maya Elite List Deciphered At The Temple Of Jaguars

Maya Elite List Deciphered At The Temple Of Jaguars

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Researchers in Mexico have deciphered an ancient text revealing the succession of names of the Cocom dynasty royal Maya blood lineage and published a breakthrough book on the subject. The new book also details the horrific “ Auto de Fe Act ” incident, when a Spanish bishop tortured and burned the rulers of the legendary “vanilla flower” Maya clan. After seven years, the research project focusing on the ruling dynasty of Chichén Itzá, the famous ancient Maya city on the Yucatán Peninsula, has come to a close. The team of archeologists claim to have identified “one of the oldest lineages in the Superior Temple of Jaguars” which corresponds to the Cocom dynasty. The solution to the Temple of Jaguars glyphs’ mystery provides a major addition to our understanding of the Maya culture and it’s ruling elite.

The Research Path Leading To The Temple of Jaguars Glyphs

A recent Yucatan Times article says researchers Eduardo Perez de Heredia and Peter Biró´s findings “opens a new door to the knowledge of the mythical Maya city and the pre-Hispanic Maya nobility’s ancient lineages.” The researchers made their discoveries after studying the papers of Theodore Willard, (1862-1943 AD) an inventor, musician, and amateur archaeologist . And it was the correlations between Willard's works and the glyphs carved on the Temple of Jaguars that proved to be the key in solving this long-standing mystery.

Eroded glyphs cover the surfaces of the Jaguar Temple at Chichen Itza. (jkraft5 / Adobe Stock)

Eroded glyphs cover the surfaces of the Jaguar Temple at Chichen Itza. ( jkraft5 / Adobe Stock)

The Cocom dynasty documents were bought by Willard at the beginning of the 20th century AD but it was anthropologist Ruth Gubler who rediscovered them in the 1980s in the Southwest Museum in Pasadena, USA. These documents contain pictures of the Mayan glyphs that were identified in the “Superior Temple of Jaguars or Temple of the Tigers,” which American explorer, writer, and diplomat, John Lloyd Stephens (1805-1852 AD) described as “perhaps the greatest gem of aboriginal art that still survives in the American continent.”

Decoding The Glyph Mystery Of An Ancient Maya Royal Lineage

The new findings are documented in Pérez de Heredia y Bíró´s new book La Casa Real de Cocom: Una Historia de Yucatán” or the “ The Royal House of Cocom: A history of Yucatán .” The authors trace the origin of the Cocom lineage from the Terminal Classic period to the arrival of the Toltecs in the early 10th century AD. The book also explains that the Cocom lineage may have originated in the kingdom of Komkom, whose capital city coincides with the current site of Buenavista del Cayo, in Belize.

The recently published book, The Royal House of Cocom: A history of Yucatán, by Eduardo Perez de Heredia and Peter Biro. (Academia)

The recently published book, The Royal House of Cocom: A history of Yucatán, by Eduardo Perez de Heredia and Peter Biro. ( Academia)

The pair of researchers say both terms, “Kokom” and “Komkom,” refer to “a sarsen plant identified with vanilla,” thus, they derived the name “Clan of the Vanilla Flower.” But the term “Kokom” also means “judge” in the Yucatecan Maya language, referring to a governmental position within the elite classes of ancient Chichen Itza.

The Temple of Jaguars’ glyphs provide the name of the 9th century founder of the Cocom lineage, “Yajawal Cho” (the Cocom Jaw), and they list the names of his descendants right up to when the line was “integrated into Chichén Tolteca in the tenth century.” At this time the lineage moved on to found Mayapán, a couple of kilometers (1.5 miles) south of the town of Telchaquillo, approximately 100 km (62 miles) west of Chichen Itza .

The nobles of the Cocom dynasty as depicted on the walls of the Temple of Jaguars. (Academia)

The nobles of the Cocom dynasty as depicted on the walls of the Temple of Jaguars. ( Academia)

The Cocom Nobles Were Mostly Named After Living Creatures

Willard´s papers listed “14 of the 61” characters or glyphs that were identified at the site, and it was discovered that these all coincided with 14 of the names of the Cocom nobles in Willard’s document, in order of succession. Among the list of noble rulers are the names “Star, Raccoon, Snake, Animal Skin and Worm” after the creatures who populated their environment.

The specific glyphs used to inscribe the names of the royal Cocom dynasty rulers and the location of these glyphs in the Temple of Jaguars. (Academia)

The specific glyphs used to inscribe the names of the royal Cocom dynasty rulers and the location of these glyphs in the Temple of Jaguars. ( Academia)

Perhaps the darkest aspect of this new research comes from new details about the “ Auto de Fe Act ” of Sotuta. This incident occurred when the 16th century AD bishop Fray Diego de Landa exhumed the remains of the Nachi Cocom and burned them on a pyre. Why? Because he discovered that he had “committed idolatries during his lifetime.”

On June 12, 1562 AD, Bishop Diego de Landa accused the Maya leaders of being heretics, and he personally tortured and hanged them before burning all their ancient codices. On that day the entire paper-written history of the Maya people went up in smoke.

The full findings are documented in the new book, La Casa Real de Cocom: Una Historia de Yucatán available on Academia.

AO Magazine - Jul/Aug 2020Read all about the Maya in this Ancient Origins Magazine Special . It seems the ancient Maya people had everything going for them…but then their civilization suddenly stopped. They abandoned their most precious city centers and stopped writing about their rulers. Why the ancient Maya civilization fell is one of the greatest archaeological mysteries. So, of course we explore the most popular, science-backed beliefs about what led to their dramatic end. This issue provides insight on some of the darker ancient Maya traditions, such as bloodletting and human sacrifice. Thankfully, those practices have been cast aside by later generations, but other, more peaceful actions, such as creating foamy chocolate drinks and caring for stingless bees, are still cherished by their descendants today. Available here.

Top image: The Temple of Jaguars in the heart of the ancient Chichen Itza complex where two Mexican researchers finally found the names of the Maya Cocom dynasty rulers written in Mayan glyphs .              Source: ttinu / Adobe Stock

By Ashley Cowie

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