A new study suggests they were sacrificed and burned to re-enact the legend of the twin heroes who immolated themselves to be reborn as the sun and moon.
“The axial location of the cremation pit that contained Burial PP7TT-01, on the compound’s eastern side – associated with the sunrise – appears to be an appropriate place for a ritual performance that alluded to and reenacted the immolation of the heroes that became the sun and the moon,” the authors wrote in their paper.
Explaining the link to Maya myth, the authors wrote, “In Maya communities, the daily path of the sun is a basic ordering principle, related with notions about the shape of the world, the yearly agricultural cycles and the human life cycle. The movements of the sun are not conceived as those of an inert celestial body. Instead they are explained in terms of the life cycle of the sun god as expressed in mythical beliefs and narratives. The origin of the sun and moon are major topics in Maya myths recorded from colonial times to the present. There is a strong possibility that related solar myths were widely known in the Maya Lowlands since ancient times”.
The myths are not recorded in Lowland Maya hieroglyphics of the time.
Classic Maya art shows correspondences to the twin heroes who transformed into the moon and sun, as told in the Popol Vuh, the authors said.
All around the world the sun plays a central role in myth.
“In the Popol Vuh, the heroes reached their destiny as luminaries only after they died by throwing themselves in a pit oven provided with heated stones and burning coal. The fire sacrifice of the Popol Vuh heroes finds parallels in numerous myths about the origin of the sun and moon,” they wrote.
Source: Ancient Origins