ABSTRACT

Among E. Wyllys Andrews V’s private collection of “Mesoamerican” artifacts is a Maya ceramic vessel with a hieroglyphic inscription. Although its recent provenance is well known – it was presented to him during his retirement party in 2009 – its archaeological context remains obscure. Here I discuss the vessel and its glyphic text. The ceramic vessel is consistent with the Dynastic Vase tradition and celebrates the history of the Middle American Research Institute (MARI) lords. Comparable king lists on other Dynastic Vases are of ambiguous historical value because they link attested late rulers with obscure early rulers who rarely appear in other sources. In the case of the Andrews Coffee Mug, I discuss why William Gates is missing and what this implies for MARI’s origins. By situating the Dynastic Vases in their social and cultural context, I argue that text structure and content create a discourse in which unverifiable propositions attain the quality of unquestionable truth.