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Artifacts from the Cenote of Sacrifice, Chichen Itza, Yucatan: Textiles, Basketry, Stone, Bone, Shell, Ceramics, Wood, Copal, Rubber, Other Organic Materials, and Mammalian Remains.

From the delights of Classical ablutions to watery dips of a more lethal and perhaps less voluntary kind. Being flung into the Cenote of Sacrifice at Chichen Itza in northern Yucatan would beat bungee-jumping any day. The huge sacred limestone sink-hole was dredged for its human and other offerings by Edward H. Thompson between 1904 and 1911, in an operation that inflicted presumed havoc on the stratigraphy of ooze and artefacts at its bottom. Also briefly employed was a Greek sponge diver, illustrated in full Edwardian diving gear, and surely not the least bizarre of the creatures to have descended into its murky waters. Now, nearly 90 years after Thompson began work, the publication by the Peabody Museum of the material recovered is completed to an exemplary standard by CLEMENCY CHASE COGGINS (ed.) Artifacts from the Cenote of Sacrifice, Chichen Itza, Yucatan: textiles, basketry, stone, bone, shell, ceramics, wood, copal, rubber, other organic materials, and mammalian remains. (xviii+389 pages, 335 figures, 32 tables. 1992. Cambridge (MA): Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University; ISBN 0-87365-694-6 paperback $59.95). Previous monographs by SAMUEL K. LOTHROP and TATIANA PROSKOURIAKOFF published the metal and the jade; the present volume covers most other categories. The waterlogged conditions were ideal for preservation, and in this volume are many examples of the fine work in carved wood and cloth (mainly cotton) that the Spanish narratives so often recorded, but which seldom survive. It is tempting to imagine the small rubber spheres also found as a pre-Columbian equivalent of the lost golf ball, but these were in fact associated with copal resin and sacrifice. COGGINS also includes several unpublished writings by Thompson, revealing a romantic adventurer with a lurid turn of phrase that would be the envy of Edgar Allan Poe.
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Author:Broodbank, Cyprian
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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