Ancient Mesoamerica



NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE LATE CLASSIC POLITICAL HISTORY OF QUIRIGUA, GUATEMALA


Matthew G.  Looper a1
a1 Department of Art and Art History, California State University at Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0820, USA

Abstract

This article summarizes the Late Classic history of the Maya city of Quirigua, Izabal, Guatemala, emphasizing its relations with other polities. Quirigua's origins as a kingdom are traced to A.D. 426, when the rulers of nearby Copan established it as a colony. For the next three centuries, the site apparently mediated an intense interaction between Copan and Tikal. In A.D. 736, a personage from Tikal's rival city, Calakmul, acted with the current king of Quirigua—Buts' Tiliw—shortly before his A.D. 738 revolt against Copan. This suggests that Quirigua's revolt may have been, in part, externally stimulated. The revolt of Quirigua against Copan initiated a series of wars by Buts' Tiliw and his successor, Sky Xul, directed against two unknown sites. At least one of these sites was probably within the Copan hegemony. In contrast to the reigns of Buts' Tiliw and Sky Xul, that of the last known king of Quirigua, Jade Sky, seems to have been free of warfare. In fact, in his final monumental text, Jade Sky indicated his reconciliation with Copan. This interpretation of the texts of Quirigua suggests that changes in alliance and wars played an important role in the development of the site during the Late Classic period.