Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
My talk focuses on the symbolic significance of Classic Maya royal queens of the snake realm and their political power which rose prominently during the Late Classic under the auspices of that regime. Their hypogamous marriages to subordinate vassal polities throughout the southern Maya lowlands created a network of alliances that elevated the snake realm’s hegemony. Utilizing the Indigenous ontology of gender complementarity as a foundational creation principle, I argue the power of these snake Queens was grounded not just in their association with that regime, but as women with the attendant implications of fecundity and reproductive power as central to their political cachet. These power domains, steeped in the potent magic of fertility, were also central to their rule as conjurers and diviners, acts of sorcery themselves metaphorically linked to birth and birth work. Orienting my position from the ancient city of Waka’, I review the substantial archaeological and epigraphic data surrounding two such queens who ruled during the 6th and 7th centuries, respectively. I evaluate how these lines of evidence permit keen understanding of their governing strategies, their wielding of sacred power, and how the people they ruled ancestralized them in memory for generations to follow, cementing their legacy within Waka’s social and political landscape and beyond.