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Ceramics and Society among the Classic Maya Cities of the Western Petén

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

This symposium focuses on the ceramic traditions of the Classic Maya cities of the Western Petén. These cities, virtually unknown a decade ago, possess a common, interconnected history. The sites between Central Lakes region and the Mexican frontier, dwelt in apparent harmony, lacking the militarism of other regions of the Classic Maya world and sharing many artistic and epigraphic traditions. Most apparent is that they shared many aspects of their disparate ceramic traditions, suggesting a significant level of interaction and exchange. Gift exchange, commerce, and artisan interaction developed throughout the Classic period, creating a shared ceramic tradition. This symposium focuses on these traditions, their differences and their similarities, and the physical vessels themselves that moved through this region. The evidence suggests a unique set of social and political relations between the Maya peoples of the region, one geared for mutual cooperation, rather than the military competition of the Maya world around them. This session will discuss the ceramic record and the social and political implications of this evidence for the cities of El Perú-Waka’, La Corona, Motul de San José, La Florida-Namaan, La Joyanca, and other centers inside and outside this region.


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  • Documents (10)

Documents

  • 1300 years of a Classic Maya ceramic tradition at El Perú-Waka’, Guatemala (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Keith Eppich.

    In the course of 13 field seasons, archaeologists have carried out 23 operations across the ruined city of El Perú-Waka’. During these investigations, excavators recovered upwards of a million ceramic sherds from a wide variety of contexts; palaces, pyramids, residences, sheet middens, construction fill, ritual deposits, spoil piles, termination deposits, votive deposits, surface collections, burials, caches, and tombs. The excavation contexts are good enough, the quality of preservation...

  • Ceramic Chronology and Current Visions of the "Terminal Classic" and Collapse in the Southern Maya Lowlands: A Brief Desultory Philippic (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Matt O'Mansky. Arthur Demarest.

    Recent popular interpretations have proposed that the "Terminal Classic" in the southern lowlands was a gradual transition or slow multi-stage process or that many ninth and tenth century centers continued to prosper; or even have proposed a "What collapse?" scenario. Yet systematic site by site review of ceramic chronologies and evidence reveals that these characterizations and, indeed, the whole debate are poorly informed due to errors in ceramic typologies and limited understandings of the...

  • Ceramic variation and ritual behavior at Altar de Sacrificios, Petén, Guatemala (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Jessica Munson. Lorena Paiz Aragón.

    Located at the headwaters of the Usumacinta and the confluence of the Salinas and Pasión Rivers, Altar de Sacrificios is uniquely positioned with strategic access to points far beyond its sandy shores. Despite the geopolitical importance of this site, Altar has not featured prominently in recent narratives about the political history of Classic Maya society. After more than fifty years, a new phase of archaeological investigations seeks to bring Altar out of the shadows and reevaluate this...

  • Ceramics and Polity at Motul de San José and its Periphery (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Antonia Foias. Jeanette Castellanos. Kitty Emery.

    Motul de San Jose entered its Golden Age during the Late Classic. It was located at a critical crossroads in the Central Peten Lakes region, sitting between the east-west San Pedro Martir River that connected it to the Western Peten kingdoms all the way to Yaxchilan, and a north-south route that tied it with Tikal in the north and Dos Pilas and the other Petexbatun centers in the south. The political alliances between Motul and these kingdoms were materialized through the gifting of Ik’ Style...

  • Ceramics and Society within the Late Classic Motul de San José Polity: A Multidisciplinary Perspective (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Ellen Moriarty. Ron Bishop. Matthew Moriarty. Antonia Foias.

    Over the past 15 years, Late Classic ceramics from Motul de San José and surrounding sites in the Central Petén Lakes area have been subjected to a variety of technical analyses. Modal and petrographic analyses of ceramics from sites throughout the Motul area have been used to explore intra-polity patterns of production and exchange for both elite and mundane vessels. At the same time, Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) has been conducted on sherds from Motul to define production...

  • Ceramics of La Florida-Namaan: a Preliminary Report (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Joanne Baron. Liliana Padilla. Christopher Martinez. Arielle Pierson.

    The Guatemalan archaeological site of La Florida, located on the San Pedro River near the Mexican border, was home to the Classic Maya polity known as Namaan. Hieroglyphic inscriptions from La Florida and elsewhere reveal the polity’s widespread political contacts with sites in western Peten, Tabasco, and beyond, as well as a dynastic history spanning three centuries. While known to archaeologists since 1943, the site has only recently been the subject of a multi-year research project. In this...

  • Los intercambios entre Naachtun (Guatemala) y el oeste de las Tierras Bajas durante el periodo Clásico: una mirada a través de su cerámica (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Julien Sion. Alejandro Patiño-Contreras. Divina Perla Barrera.

    Aun cuando Naachtun, una capital regional clásica, compartió una tradición cerámica con otros sitios del norte del Petén, en particular con la Cuenca Mirador, y recibió en ciertas épocas de su ocupación una fuerte influencia proveniente de ciudades del centro (Tikal-Uaxactun), además aparecen en su colección cerámica recipientes que reflejan intercambios con otras regiones de las Tierras Bajas. Dentro de esta cerámica importada, una cantidad significativa proviene del oeste de las Tierras Bajas...

  • Multiscale Diversity in Classic Decorated Pottery in the Hiix Witz kingdom of the Western Maya Lowlands (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Charlotte Arnauld. Mélanie Forné.

    A political entity defined mainly on epigraphic evidence, the Hiix Witz kingdom includes at least three head centers, Zapote Bobal, El Pajaral and La Joyanca, all located south of the San Pedro Mártir river. The architecture, sculpture and ceramics of the three sites were subjected to extensive studies from 1999 to 2006, also in 2012, suggesting that this entity consisted of relatively heterogeneous components that must have entertained distinct relations with neighborring regions of the...

  • Painted pots and royal routes: hieroglyphic and ceramic traditions in the western Peten (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT James Fitzsimmons.

    The cities of the western Peten shared a common history and several ceramic traditions. In the northwest along the San Pedro Martir River, archaeological sites like El Peru (Waka’), Zapote Bobal (Hiix Witz), La Joyanca, and La Florida (Namaan) flourished with seemingly few—if any—clashes between them for the entirety of the Classic Period. That being said, we know that this region was greatly affected by the Tikal-Calakmul wars. There was even a ‘road’ or route between the sites allied to the...

  • Sharing Wares and Waging Wars: The Politics of Ceramic Exchange at the Classic Maya Site of El Zotz, Guatemala (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT Alyce De Carteret. Sarah Newman.

    The Classic Maya city of El Zotz, relatively small compared to its neighbors, is situated geographically, and at times politically, between El Perú-Waka’ to the west and Tikal to the east. The archaeological site occupies an elevated position within the Buenavista Valley, a southwest to northeast corridor running for some 32 km to the north of the Lake Petén Itza region. The valley connects the northeast and northwest Petén, from Chetumal Bay to the Bay of Campeche, placing the site in a...

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America