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

Compiling the Who's Who in the Classic Maya World

This Who's Who in the Classic Maya World is admittedly a rather daunting task. Determining the life stories of hundreds of individuals from texts that are often fragmentary and eroded is a job that requires time and patience. In view of this, I should ask for your tolerance and acceptance that the Who's Who in the Classic Maya World will remain a work in progress for some considerable time.

However I should also indicate here just how I propose to proceed. In order to get a solid start, I propose to begin with site of Palenque, where both the number of historical individuals and their biographical details are especially rich. I have already compiled biographies for most of the rulers of Palenque, and am currently preparing entries for the supporting cast of Palenque: nobles, relatives, captives, and so on, who are mentioned in that site's inscriptions. In the meantime I am also dealing with other individuals who are cross-referenced in the Palenque entries: individuals such as the Calakmul king "Scroll-Serpent" who supervised the sacking of Palenque in AD 610-611.

For future additions to the Who's Who I am planning to work simultaneously on two fronts. First, I shall start working my way through individual Maya sites, and second I shall attempt at least a sample of individuals from a broad array of Maya sites, so as to get those sites 'on the map' of the Who's Who.

I should also warn that some aspects of the supporting documentation may be sacrificed temporarily, in order that I can proceed with getting entries up on line as quickly as possible. For example, while I shall attempt to compile the "Also Known As" list for each individual (see The "a.k.a." Issue), complete compilations would involve an exhaustive checking of the literature on Maya hieroglyphs and history. Illustrations (both of portraits and of glyphic texts) will in some cases be subject to copyright restrictions and permission to reproduce them may take some time to obtain.

In other words, early on in this project I shall try to list as many individuals as possible, but not necessarily with all of their supporting documentation-at least not at first. Initially I shall focus on the 'Short Biography' (an introductory paragraph or two summarizing what we know of the individual's life), then the 'Complete List of Text References' and the 'Also Known As' sections (for further details, see How the Who's Who is Organised).

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