The undergraduate student archaeology club at the University of Calgary is called Chacmool, but why? Who was Chacmool? The name derives from a mythical prince of the ancient Maya of Chichen Itza, at least according to late 19th century explorer Augustus Le Plongeon. Le Plongeon had the romantic notion that Chichen Itza was inhabited by refugees from the lost continent of Mu. Prince Chacmool was the son of Queen Mu. He was commemorated in a series of large stone sculptures of a reclining figure with knees bent and a bowl resting on his stomach. Many scholars have attempted interpretations of these enigmatic statues that have been found at sites across Mesoamerica, but no consensus exists.
Why the U of Calgary’s archaeology club adopted the name Chacmool is also lost in the mists of time. According to Emeritus Professor Dr. Jane Kelley, who has long been the keeper of the sacred history of the Chacmool conference, it likely originated with the department’s co-founder, Dr. Richard (Scotty) MacNeish, who was an eminent Mesoamerican archaeologist best known for his investigation of the domestication of corn. There is nothing inherently Chacmoolish about the archaeology club, though Chacmooligans have historically created caricatures of the icon wearing sombreros and holding drinks; one myth is that the bowl on the statue’s belly may have held guacamole dip – residue analysis has yet to confirm this possibility. (written by Geoff McCafferty).
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