Title

Inter-Regional Socioeconomic and Sociopolitical Relations of the Postclassic Maya of North-Central Yucatan, Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala

Document Type

Grant Report

Publication Date

2013

Abstract

On-going research into the Postclassic to Colonial period (post A.D. 1200-1700) Maya of northern Yucatán, Belize, and Guatemala reveals a time of dynamic sociopolitical alliances, changing religious cults, long-distance exchange, and migrations of Maya from northern Yucatán to central Petén and vice versa. New approaches to better understanding the Postclassic Maya have centered on exchange of various artifacts (e.g., obsidian and salt) as well as ideologically-based symbol sets. While these studies have advanced the scholarship of the sociopolitical complexity and far-reaching trade of some items, pottery has not been examined to its fullest potential. Thus, archaeologists are overlooking data that could identify places of manufacture and long-distance exchange patterns and cannot state with certainty if the Postclassic Maya exchanged pottery with similar iconography and forms or if the ideas behind the pottery were being transmitted, even though Postclassic long-distance exchange of pottery has been suggested for more than 30 years. For the first time, this project will use a multi-disciplinary approach to examine the pottery that is most likely to transmit messages of Postclassic identity and ritual (red-slipped vessels and incensarios) thus contributing new insights into the complexity of Postclassic Maya social and economic life.

The objectives of the project will be met by sampling 150 Postclassic red-slipped bowls and jars and 50 effigy incense burners from 10 archaeological sites (Mayapán, Ek Balam, Laguna de On, Santa Rita, Saktunja, Tipuj, Zacpetén, Nixtun Ch’ich’ Tayasal, and Macanché Island) employing a stratified random sampling methodology to ensure that the variability in the sample is adequately represented. The PI, who has been conducting this type of research for six years, will stylistically (type-variety classification), mineralogically (petrographic analysis), and chemically (instrumental neutron activation analysis, INAA) analyze the samples and then interpret these data with the collaborators to identify and clarify movements of sociopolitical groups and their ideas. Upon completion of the analyses, these data will be presented in a publicly accessible web format that will ensure data sharing among researchers and at national and international conferences thus fostering future collaborations between researchers in the United States, México, Belize, and Guatemala.

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