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

How the Who's Who is Organised

I have divided the information contained in this Who's Who in the Classic Maya World into three categories. The first comprises some introductory comments and essays, one of which you are reading now. The second category concerns individual sites, and provides both general comments and other relevant information on those sites-such things as a discussion of the genealogy of the site's royal family, when known. The third category is the 'meat' of this Who's Who: the biographical information on the individuals that make up the Classic Maya historical landscape.

In compiling this Who's Who in the Classic Maya World, I thought that it might be best to 'nest' the information on Classic Maya individuals. Many readers may want just a short summary biography, and prefer not to be confronted by a lengthy discussion of arcane points concerning each individual. Therefore I have decided that it would be best that the opening 'page' of each biography be fairly brief and 'friendly'. It will have the heading of the individual's name, along with a one-line descriptive label and his or her major dates (e.g. 'king of Palenque, born AD 603, ruled AD 615-683'). This opening page will also contain a 'Short Biography' (usually just one or two paragraphs), and also up to two visual items: a representative name-glyph of the individual, and a portrait-if one is available.

For ease of reference, I shall keep a running list of individuals, labelling each one with a site code and number. The site codes will follow those of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions (CMHI 6:187-189) and consist of three letters (see Site Names and Codes). In general I shall begin with the known rulers of the site and list them in a chronological sequence. After the rulers I shall list other known members of the royal family, and then other individuals identified in the inscriptions as belonging to the kingdom in question. Finally, I shall list individuals who are known to be 'foreign' but whose kingdom affiliation is unknown. This latter category involves captives whose 'home site' is not identified: these will be listed under the site of their captor until such time as their site affiliation can be identified.

Occasionally, some identifications may need to be revised. For example, I may list as a separate 'name' one that turns out to be a part of an existing individual's name, or I may identify as a name a glyph that turns out to be something else. If such incorrect identifications are recognised, they may result in a few numbers being dropped from the listings.

The basic biographical information outlined above will be visible upon the opening page for each individual. Additional information will also be provided, however, for those who wish to read more about the individual or to see more details about the inscriptions that mention him or her. These additional details can be reached by clicking on the following links, when available.

Fuller Biographical Discussion
This is the 'long version' of the biography. In many cases the 'Short Biography' will suffice for saying all that there is to say about an individual (after all, the majority of Classic Maya individuals are known from just a few references). However some individuals (such as the great kings of the ancient Maya) have a wealth of recorded biographical detail. In such cases, this 'Fuller Biographical Discussion' section allows for a fuller detailing and discussion of their life and deeds. Please note that I shall probably leave the writing of most of these longer biographies until some later time.

Complete List of Text References
This presents the technical data concerning each hieroglyphic passage where the individual is named. The following items are recorded for each passage:

  • the text number that I have ascribed to each reference;
  • the site, recorded by its three-letter code;
  • the monument;
  • the location of the name within the inscription;
  • the Dedicatory Date of the monument, as recorded in the Maya Long Count;
  • the Long Count and Calendar Round Date of the passage;
  • the corresponding Julian Date of the passage;
  • the event;
  • whether the individual's name is specifically recorded;
  • whether a portrait accompanies the passage; and finally,
  • any additional comments.

For further details on the information listed in this section, see Complete List of Text References.

What's in a Name?
This is a heading that incorporates three individual sections relating to the individual's name and extended name phrase: (1) What's in a Name?; (2) Also Known As; and (3) Other Names and Titles. The first of these (What's in a Name?) discusses the personal name of the individual. It covers both the reading of the name glyph and its translation, when known, as well as a brief history of earlier attempts to 'read' the name.

Also Known As
This section lists other versions of the individual's name as recorded in the literature.

Other Names and Titles
Here are listed other names and titles that are recorded in the various references to the individual.

This section lists all known portraits of the individual.

List of Buildings Commissioned by the Individual
This list applies mostly to rulers, but occasionally nobles could commission structures, especially in outlying sites that they governed within the kingdom.

List of Monuments Commissioned by the Individual
Again, mostly it was rulers who commissioned buildings, but in some cases nobles commissioned smaller items and even, on occasion, large monuments.

We do not know the family history of most of the individuals of the Classic Maya world. For some, however, we have a wealth of genealogical information (see also Classic Maya Names: Parentage Statements). Where appropriate, this genealogical information will be included.

Please note that in the interests of entering as many individuals as possible (and as quickly as I can) in the Who's Who in the Classic Maya World, the documentation of some of these categories may at first be omitted or only partially done (see Compiling the Who's Who in the Classic Maya World). I shall attempt to complete any missing sections as quickly as possible.


1999 Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions. Volume 6, Part 3: Tonina (by Ian Graham and Peter Mathews).
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

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