Link to enlarge Masculine head from Palenque Chiapas after Michel Zabé WHO'S WHO IN THE CLASSIC MAYA WORLD
Peter Mathews

The "a.k.a." ("Also Known As") Issue

Over the years there have been numerous ways of referring to Classic Maya historical individuals. Tatiana Proskouriakoff referred to the Piedras Negras rulers she identified as "Series 1" and so on (Proskouriakoff 1960:455-464), and Heinrich Berlin (1968:140) referred to the rulers of Palenque as "Subject A", and so on. Classic Maya individuals have been referred to by English, Spanish, or French nicknames, and in some cases by attempts to read their Maya name-glyphs, proposing readings that are no longer considered correct. Take, for example, published 'names' for K'inich Janab' Pakal I, the great king of Palenque who is entombed below the Temple of the Inscriptions:

Subject A Berlin1968:140
Lord Shield PacalMathews and Schele1974:63-65
Lady Eight FlowerKelley1976:224-225
(Mah K'ina) PacalSchele1980:103-111
Pacal the GreatSchele and Freidel1990:219-222

Most of these differences reflect the evolution in the ability of epigraphers to interpret and read the hieroglyphic components of the name of this great king. In addition, however, there have been two recent developments that affect the spelling of ancient Maya names. One is an attempt to standardize the orthography used to write modern Mayan languages. This was initiated by Guatemala's Academia de Lenguas Mayas (1988), and their orthography is now standard throughout the 20-odd Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala. Most Maya epigraphers have adopted this orthography. It differs in some important respects from the standard 16th century Yucatec (Yukatek) orthography that was universally used until the 1990s. The changes in orthography (for example k instead of the Yukatek c) necessitated new 'spellings' for Maya names:

Mah K'ina Hanab PakalSchele1992:186
Hanab-Pakal IISchele and Mathews1993:111-118
Mah K'ina Hanab-Pakal IIMathews1996:128
K'inich Hanab PakalCoe and Kerr1997:130

This new orthography and its implications for the spellings of Classic Maya names is discussed more fully in Orthography Used in the Who's Who. I shall be using it in this Who's Who.

The second recent development has been in the interpretation of Classic Maya spelling conventions. One is the acceptance by most epigraphers that the distinction between /h/ and /j/ (velar and glottal spirants to those of you who are linguistically-minded) was present in the hieroglyphic languages and reflected in the script. The second is the issue of what have been called "complex vowels", including long vowels and vowels followed by /h/ or the glottal stop /'/. These issues are discussed in more detail in Maya Hieroglyphic Spellings. The 'complex vowel' spelling rules have led to the following spellings of the name of the Palenque king referred to above:

K'inich Janaab' Pakal IMartin and Grube2000:162-168
K'inich Janahb' PakalStuart2000:29
K'ihnich Janaahb' PakalKettunen2003:61

This issue of how to 'spell' vowels in Maya writing is admittedly an extremely important one for professional epigraphers, but there is still no universal agreement among them. It is an important point, but a relatively fine one-and yet one that can cause some distress to those beginning to come to grips with the intricacies of Maya hieroglyphic writing.

I therefore propose to leave to one side for the moment the issue of complex vowels, and in this Who's Who in the Classic Maya World I shall record only simple forms of the vowels (which in any case are still favored by some epigraphers and linguists). Published 'complex vowel' versions of names will of course be listed in the "Also Known As" section of those individuals' entries.

In the 'Also Known As' sections listed under each individual entry, I shall attempt to include all known labels for that individual from the published literature. Undoubtedly I shall not get them all, but I shall attempt to update the lists on an ongoing basis. Those publications which use the same version of the name that is used in the Who's Who will not be included: the aim here is to list variant spellings and other names by which the individuals are known in the literature.


Academia de las Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala
1988 Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala: Documento de referencia para la pronunciación de los nuevos alfabetos oficiales.
Documento No. 1.

Guatemala City: Instituto Indigenista Nacional.
Berlin, Heinrich
1968 The Tablet of the 96 Glyphs at Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico.
Archaeological Studies in Middle America (Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, Publication 26):135-150.
New Orleans.
Coe, Michael D., and Justin Kerr
1997 The Art of the Maya Scribe.
London: Thames and Hudson
Houston, Stephen D., John R. Robertson, and David Stuart
2001 Quality and quantity in glyphic nouns and adjectives.
Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing 47.

Washington, D.C.: Center for Maya Research.
Houston, Stephen D., David Stuart, and John R. Robertson
1998 Disharmony in Maya hieroglyphic writing: linguistic change and continuity in Classic Society.
Anatomía de una civilización: aproximaciones interdisciplinarias a la cultura Maya (A. Ciudad Real et al. eds.):275-296.
Madrid: Sociedad Española de Estudios Mayas.
Kelley, David H.
1976 Deciphering the Maya Script. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Kettunen, Harri
2003 Maya Hieroglyfit. Acta Ibero-Americana Fennica, Series Hispano-Americana 3.
Helsinki: Instituto Iberoamericano de Finlandia.
Knorosov, Yuri V.
1958 The problem of the study of the Maya hieroglyphic writing.American Antiquity 23(3):284-291.
Kubler, George
1969 Studies in Classic Maya Inconography.
Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, Volume XVIII.
New Haven.
Lacadena, Alfonso, and Søren Wichmann
in press The representation of the glottal stop in Maya writing.
The Linguistics of Maya Writing
(Søren Wichmann, ed.).
Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
Lounsbury, Floyd G.
1974 The inscription of the Sarcophagus Lid at Palenque.
Primera Mesa Redonda de Palenque, Part(Merle Greene Robertson, ed.):5-19.
Pebble Beach, California: The Robert Louis Stevenson School.
Martin, Simon, and Nikolai Grube
2000 Notebook for the Inaugural Maya Hieroglyphic Workshop at Calgary, November 9-10, 1996.Calgary: Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary.
Mathews, Peter
1996 Notebook for the Inaugural Maya Hieroglyphic Workshop at Calgary, November 9-10, 1996.
Calgary: Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary.
Mathews, Peter, and Linda Schele
1974 Lords of Palenque-the glyphic evidence.
Primera Mesa Redonda de Palenque, Part I (Merle Greene Robertson, ed.):63-76.
Pebble Beach, California: The Robert Louis Stevenson School.
Proskouriakoff, Tatiana
1960 Historical implications of a pattern of dates at Piedras Negras, Guatemala.
American Antiquity
Schele, Linda
1980 Notebook for the Maya Hieroglyphic Writing Workshop at Texas, March 22-23, 1980.
Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin.
1992 The Group of the Cross at Palenque: A Commentary on Creation.
Notebook for the XVIth Maya Hieroglyphic Forum at Texas, March 14-15, 1992:117-210.
Austin: Art Department, University of Texas at Austin.
Schele, Linda, and David Freidel
1990 A Forest of Kings.New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
Schele, Linda, and Peter Mathews
1993 The Dynastic History of Palenque.
Notebook for the XVIIth Maya Hieroglyphic Forum at Texas, March 13-14, 1993:90-165.
Austin: Department of Art and Art History, and the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin.
Stuart, David
2000 Las nuevas inscripciones del Templo XIX, Palenque
Arqueología Mexicana

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