Universität Bonn

Bonn Center for Digital Humanities

The Mass Grave of Uxul and the Function of Ritual Violence in Classic Maya Society

Abb. 1. Uxul, Künstliche Höhle, Räumliche Verteilung von Knochenelementen und Artefakten
© (Grafik von N. Seefeld, 2022)


Due to its remarkable state of preservation, the mass grave of Uxul (Campeche, Mexico), discovered and excavated by Nicolaus Seefeld during the 2013 field season of the Uxul archaeological project, offers a fascinating insight into the phenomenon of ritual violence in Classic Maya society. During the 2013 field season, archaeological excavations in an artificial cave in Uxul, Mexico, uncovered the bones of approximately 20 individuals. Excavations of the mass grave were conducted as part of the Uxul Archaeological Project (Department of Anthropology of the Americas, University of Bonn, Germany), led by Prof. Dr. Nikolai Grube.

Restoration of the bone material and publication of the context in an electronic database.

Since 2022, all documented bone elements and associated artifacts have been conserved in an ambitious restoration project funded by the Patrimonies Program of the Gerda Henkel Foundation. In order to monitor and document the various stages of conservation, to provide evidence of the wide range of cultural changes to the bone elements (cut marks on the bone, direct injury to the bone, exposure to heat, etc.), and to make them visible, accessible, and understandable to both the public and the scientific community, this restoration project will also publish the extensive research results in an open-access electronic database. The design and functionality of this electronic database (https://uxulmassgrave.com) is intended to facilitate didactic knowledge transfer and ensure the general comprehensibility and accessibility of this extraordinary find.

Project members

Dr. Nicolaus Seefeld, Project Leader
(Department of Ancient American Studies and Anthropology, University of Bonn)
Dr. des. Carlos Pallán Gayol, development and design of the database
(BCDH, Department of Ancient American Studies and Anthropology, University of Bonn)
Lic. Leticia Jiménez Hernández (head of the restoration department), Lic. Félix Camacho Zamora (restorer in charge), Valentín Hernández Canche, Anabel Cambranis Alfaro, Gaspar Panti Dzul (restoration technician), Yolanda Espinosa Fernández (accountant)
Centro INAH Campeche, Restoration Department, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Campeche City, Mexico.


Between 2018 and 2021, the Gerda Henkel Foundation supported the project with a research grant as well as travel and material costs. Since 2022, the research project has been funded by the Patrimonies Program of the Gerda Henkel Foundation.




Dr. Nicolaus Seefeld (Project lead)


Contact at BCDH:

Avatar Pallan Gayol

Carlos Pallan Gayol

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