Open Today: 10AM — 5PM Become a Member

On View Now

Nature, Power, and Maya Royals

July 14, 2021–February 27, 2022

Golden Gallery

King sitting on a throne on Cylindar Vase with Human Figures, Belize, AD 650–750, earthenware and mineral paint, 7.3 x 6.2 in. (18.5 x 16 cm), L/27/189-9:264, Photo: The Mopan Valley Archaeology Project, Bernadette Cap


Nature, Power, and Maya Royals: Recent Discoveries from the Site of Buenavista del Cayo is a collaboration between the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Belize Institute of Archaeology, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. This exhibition showcases objects from the Maya Classic period (AD 250–900) discovered at the site of Buenavista del Cayo, Belize. These objects, which are being exhibited for the first time, were recovered in 2014 and 2019 from two royal tombs, one dating to the Early Classic period (ca. AD 450) and one to the Late Classic period (ca. AD 650–750). This exhibition also includes vessels from the SAMA permanent collection, which are put in dialogue with the Buenavista del Cayo objects.

By the Early classic period, the Maya had developed a strong social hierarchy ruled by kings and queens. The royal class needed to continually negotiate and reaffirm their position in society, and art was one crucial medium for doing so. This exhibition highlights how two Maya rulers commissioned artwork that featured commanding iconography to express and legitimate power.

 

Nature, Power, and Maya Royals: Recent Discoveries from the Site of Buenavista del Cayo, Belize was organized by the San Antonio Museum of Art in collaboration with the Belize National Institute of Culture and History’s Institute of Archaeology and scholars in the University of Texas at San Antonio anthropology department. It has been generously supported by the Gloria Galt Endowment Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. All excavations from which the objects in the exhibition came were conducted with the permission of the Belize Institute of Archaeology under permits held by the Mopan Valley Archaeology Project.


Exhibition Gallery

King sitting on a throne on Cylinder Vase with Human Figures. Belize, AD 650–750, earthenware and mineral paint, 7.3 x 6.3 in. (18.5 x 16 cm), L.27/189-9:264. Image credit: The Mopan Valley Archaeology Project, Bernadette Cap.

Lid with Monkey-Shaped Handle, Belize, ca. AD 450, earthenware, 3.9 x 8.7 in (10 x 22 cm); L.27/189-9:214a. Image credit: The Mopan Valley Archaeology Project, Julie Unruh.

Detail of jaguar and coatimundi way on Cylinder Vase with Animal Figures, Belize, AD 650–750, earthenware and mineral paint, 7.5 x 6.7 in. (19 x 17 cm), L.27/189-9:267. Image credit: The Mopan Valley Archaeology Project, Bernadette Cap.

Decorated Shell Pendant with Glyphs, Belize, ca. AD 450, shell and cinnabar pigment, 4.9 x 4.1 x 1 in. (12.5 x 10.5 x 2.5 cm), L27/189-9:213, Photo: The Mopan Valley Archaeology Project, Dylan Messina

Become A Member

SAMA is more than a museum; it’s a place to explore the world.