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


Increasingly over the past several decades we are reaching a fairly detailed understanding of Classic Maya "history" and its cast of characters. For quite a while I have believed that a detailed listing of names of Maya kings, queens, nobles and others would be worthwhile, and I think that it is now possible to make a start on such a project. The superb recent book Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens by Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube (2000) shows just how much biographical detail is available for the rulers of the Classic Maya, but in addition we have varying degrees of information on a whole host of other ancient Maya individuals: mothers, fathers, nobles, captives, and so on.

Until fairly recently a major problem in an undertaking such as this was that many of the names of these individuals could not be read accurately. Even some of the greatest of all Classic Maya individuals were simply designated "Ruler 1", or given nicknames like "Casper", "18 Rabbit", and so on. Now, however, such labels and nicknames are very much in the minority, and with the great burst of hieroglyphic decipherment over the past 20 years or so we can now successfully read the vast majority of the names of Classic Maya individuals. Gradually, the world of the ancient Maya is opening to us, and we are able to accord both great kings and lesser nobles and captives the dignity of calling them by their own, Classic Maya, names.

I hope that you might find this Who's Who in the Classic Maya World of some interest and usefulness, and I welcome your suggestions for corrections, improvements, and additions (see Feedback: Comments and Correspondence).


Martin, Simon, and Nikolai Grube
2000 Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens.
London: Thames and Hudson.

Introductory Page  |   Next Page

Return to top of page