Date of Award


Honors Thesis Number




Faculty Advisor

Hill, Jonathan


The ballgame existed as an integral facet of Mayan life. Ritual and mythic expression are inextricably linked to the execution of the ballgame and are deeply integrated into Mayan culture. Ritual human sacrifice is an unquestionable aspect related to the ballgame. The Maya rulers extended the outcome of the ballgarne by satisfying the deities through ritual and human sacrifice (Scarborough 1991 :143). The Quiche book of epic narratives, named the Papal Vuh, is a recurring theme in the exploration of the ballgame and it is deeply weighted with mythic significance. A discussion of how this theme is interwoven into the political, social, and religious aspects of Mayan society will be addressed in this paper. The architecture of the ballcourt possesses significant attributes which define and display the important role of Mayan ritual and mythic expression. The court existed as a sacred and ritualistic space and was believed to be a threshold between the Middleworld and the Underworld. Iconography associated with the ballcourt and ballgame will be presented to support the mythic and ritual incorporation in Mayan life. The function of ritual and myth exist in a complementary role and possess a relationship of interdependency. The importance of these mythic narratives and the relationship of human sacrifice and the ballgame that exist in these stories are evidence of a historical connection and thereby deeply rooted into the lives of the Maya.