Stingray Spines

Stingray Spine, Str. 766A-l, Cache 2, Zacpeten
Stingray Spine, Str. 766A-l, Cache 2, Zacpeten

Stingray spines are serrated spines on the whip-like tails of stingrays, which contain strong venom that can be fatal (Benson 1988: 179-181). These and other sharp objects were used to draw blood from the tongue, penis, and ears for offerings (Landa 1941: 113-114). Stingray spines found in burials at Mayapán were usually encountered near the pelvis, but were also used for utilitarian purposes (Proskouriakoff 1962b: 378). Stingrays, like sharks, were dangerous and powerful beings of the watery Underworld and since they appear to “fly” through the water, they are liminal as well (Benson 1988: 179). In Yucatán, the spines were kept by the priests, who obviously oversaw the blood-sacrifices (Landa 1941: 191). Several stingray spines were found at Zacpetén. They were exotic since they were obtained through trade (Pugh 2001).