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ON THE TRAIL OF QUETZALCOATL/KUKULCAN: TRACING MYTHIC INTERACTION ROUTES AND NETWORKS IN THE MAYA LOWLANDS
Ancient Mesoamerica (2017)
  • William J. Folan, Universidad Autonoma de Campeche
  • David D. Bolles
  • Jerald D. Ek, Western Washington University
Abstract
This paper examines ethnohistoric accounts and oral histories accumulated during the last 50 years concerning the movements of the mythical personage of Quetzalcoatl/Kukulcan (Kukul Can) and the role of these narratives in political ideologies between the Epiclassic and Postclassic periods. These narratives outline the movements of Quetzalcoatl/Kukulcan by way of terrestrial, celestial, and subterranean routes that connected pilgrimage centers across the Maya lowlands in the peninsula of Yucatan. Ethnographic and ethnohistoric data presented in this paper describe linkages between important political, economic, and ritual centers that had roots in pan-Mesoamerican social dynamics originating as early as the Terminal Classic or Epiclassic period. Links between cities included not just the physical intersite connections evidenced by causeways that are so prominent in the archaeological record but also intangible, mythical, and symbolic connections embodied in mythical histories of subterranean passageways and celestial umbilical cords. These accounts and oral histories highlight the importance of migration and founding events in the establishment of new cities during the major political, economic, and social reorganizations that took place after the end of the Late Classic period. As a whole, these linkages comprised a political infrastructure connecting a network of cities within the highly integrated and international Postclassic Mesoamerican world. The indigenous histories outlined in this paper complement archaeological data, reflecting an increase in internationalism, economic integration, and the spread of new religious movements beginning in the Terminal or Epiclassic periods across Mesoamerica.
Keywords
  • Mesoamerica,
  • Maya Lowlands,
  • Religion,
  • Epiclassic
Publication Date
Fall October, 2017
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1017/S0956536115000346
Citation Information
William J. Folan, David D. Bolles and Jerald D. Ek. "ON THE TRAIL OF QUETZALCOATL/KUKULCAN: TRACING MYTHIC INTERACTION ROUTES AND NETWORKS IN THE MAYA LOWLANDS" Ancient Mesoamerica Vol. 27 Iss. 2 (2017) p. 293 - 318
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jerald-ek/9/