Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lady K'awiil Ajaw

From the CIA's World Factbook.

Cobá is a site in the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo (on the right side of the peninsula.) In our times, the site's historical monuments have had a lot of erosion happen to them. They're not all entirely unusable though. One of the figures that archaeologists can still make out is from the Late Classic (which went from around 600 AD to 800 AD.)

The figure is a woman ruler or queen that has been named Lady K'awiil Ajaw. (You might also see her called Ruler B, and Encyclopedia of the Ancient Maya calls her Ix K'awiil Ek.) Depending on the source, her existence is either confirmed or still a possibility.

Like Lady K'abel, this queen was a kaloomte'. Being a kaloomte' (which you may find spelled kalomte) meant that you had gotten to the highest rank you could get if you were an ancient Maya living during the Late Classic -- it means "Supreme Warrior." This rank has been described as being a military governor. (On a related note, after studying Cobá, Guenter does not think that father to son rule was a common thing there.)

Lady K'awiil Ajaw may have ruled Cobá from about 640 AD until 681 AD. (One source, the newsletter from Far Horizons, gives the end date of 682 AD.) In these forty-odd years, there are several possible things she may have done to increase the power of her city-state. One possibility is that she increased control over the places that Cobá controlled. Another possibility is that she ordered a takeover of another city-state, called Yaxuná. (This other city-state was and is west of Cobá, and is now located in the Mexican state of Yucatan.)

There are four monuments that show Lady K'awiil Ajaw, one of which is Stela 1, whose date is 682 AD. The stela is striking in that it has her image on both sides. This is unusual because it doesn't seem to have been the done thing for putting queens' images on both sides.

Consideration: A Road
There's a possibility that a road or sacbe (or sacbé) called Sacbe 1 -- that goes between Cobá and another site called Yaxuná -- was a public work ordered by Lady K'awiil Ajaw. (Though another possibility is that the road existed before she was the ruler of Cobá .) Sacbe 1 is 62 miles long. It looks like it wasn't something people really used, after Lady K'awiil Ajaw passed on.

The sacbe may have been made as a way to move troops more easily. But it's thought that this road had some other uses -- that there were non-combatants who were given permission to use the road, like merchants and ambassadors. However, it's possible the main reason was moving troops.

Google Books: "Before Kukulkán: Bioarchaeology of Maya Life, Death, and Identity at Classic Period Yaxná"; Vera Tiesler, Andrea Cucina, Travis W.Stanton, David Freidel"; 2017

Google Books: "The Role of Archaeoastronomy in the Maya World: the Case Study of the Island of Cozumel"; 2016

Google Books: "Encyclopedia of the Ancient Maya"; Walter R.T. Witschey; 2016

University of California Riverside: UCR Today: "Anthropologist Awarded NSF Grant to Excavate maya Households"; Bettye Miller; June 29, 2016

Far Horizons: "Newsletter" volume 17, No. 2; Fall 2012

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