Recent Shifts in Maya Archaeology: Investigations of the Colonial and National Periods of the Yucatan

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

This session seeks to highlight developments in the archaeology of the colonial and early national periods throughout the Maya regions. Maya archaeologists working in Mexico and across Central America have produced a rich body of scholarship exploring Maya society before Spanish invasion and settlement. Maya archaeology has been influential at both the regional and the international levels, generating standards for archaeological practice, introducing innovative scientific techniques, melding archaeology with ethnohistory and epigraphy, creating theories about the rise, maintenance,and collapse of state level societies. However, the rich material record and cultural groups from the periods following Spanish-Maya contact have remained marginalized within the archaeology of this important cultural and geographic region.

This session will bring together scholars working through the region at sites from the colonial through early national periods, and beyond. Historical archaeology across Mexico and Central America is only just gaining momentum. The scholars involved in this session are contributing not only to the expansion of knowledge about these marginalized time periods in Maya archaeology, but are also addressing some of the field's most pressing theoretical and methodological questions.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • Colonial Negotiation in the Frontier Province of Beneficios Altos (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adam Kaeding.

    The frontier location of the Spanish colonial province of Beneficios Altos, Yucatan provides a unique case study for investigation into the lives and strategies of colonial Maya individuals and communities. Given their proximity to a notoriously porous southern border and the documented record of significant numbers of people who escaped colonial authority by crossing that border, those communities and individuals living within the boundaries of Beneficios Altos can largely be considered to have...

  • Comparing Labor Regimes: Debt Peons in the Northeastern Yucatan versus Free Laborers in British Honduras (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Gust.

    In this paper I compare the working conditions and cultural material found at a cluster of three sites in the northeast corner of the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula, to those at San Pedro Siris in the Cayo District of then British Honduras. The people in both areas contended with more militant Maya groups that were unhappy with improved relations with Mexican and British Honduran authorities respectively. Similar workplace dangers confronted both the lumber workers at San Pedro Siris and the...

  • Consumer Culture at the 19th century Maya refugee site at Tikal, Guatemala (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Meierhoff.

    In the mid-nineteenth century Maya refugees fleeing the violence of the Caste War of Yucatan (1857-1901) briefly reoccupied the ancient Maya ruins of Tikal, Guatemala. These Yucatec speaking refugees combined with Lacandon Maya, and later Ladinos from Lake Petén Itza to form a small, multi-ethnic village in the sparsely occupied Petén jungle of northern Guatemala. The following paper will discuss the recent archaeological investigation of the historic refugee village at Tikal, with a focus on...

  • The Cycle of the Living Dead: Ruins, Loss, and Preservation in Tihosuco, Quintana Roo (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kasey Diserens.

    Why does the threat of loss strike fear into our hearts as heritage professionals and archaeologists? Why do we not understand the loss of cultural practices as part and parcel of being human, and accept that loss is not the opposite of heritage, but in fact and integral part of it? We need to transform the discourse surrounding loss, embracing it as an integral part of culture rather than avoiding it. This paper will demonstrate how such threats impact the decision making processes surrounding...

  • Formative Experiences: Everyday Life and Political Violence in Yucatan, 1847-1866 (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tiffany Cain.

    How can we study political violence in the archaeological record? How does it impact civilian spaces and how can we rethink its consequences for everyday life? This paper argues for the interpretive value of civilian landscapes for the study of violent conflict. The tendency to treat political violence as an event (e.g. the Caste War of Yucatan) in archaeology, rather than a prolonged sociopolitical episode or process, impoverishes our archaeological theorization of violence: violence is forced...

  • Identifying Farming Strategies within Changing Regional Contexts at Tahcabo, Yucatán (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adolfo Batun-Alpuche. Maia Dedrick. Patricia McAnany.

    Colonial- and national-period studies of agricultural practices in Yucatán can provide useful case studies to address current theoretical concerns in political ecology. Perspectives on livelihood strategies today are broadly comparable to household-level studies of economic activities accessible through archaeology, especially given historical archaeology’s attention to market integration and technological innovations. The time depth available through archaeological study complements...

  • Indicios de poder, la estrategia de control de la guerra de castas. Arqueológica e historia de la posición de la fuerzas armadas porfirianas en la Campaña militar de Yucatán de 1899-1901. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alejandra Badillo Sánchez.

    En el contexto de la ultima época de la guerra de castas. El gobierno de Porfirio Diaz manda a construir un sistema de fuertes en la zona centro oriental del estado de Yucatán, con el objetivo de tomar el control del territorio que por más de cuarenta años había estado dominado por los mayas "rebeldes". Excavaciones realizadas, así como recorridos en la zona revelan la planeación, ubicación y arquitectura de puestos militares, los cuales sugieren por una parte la estrategia del gobierno para...

  • Machetes, Metates, and Majolica: San Pedro Maya Involvement in the Colonial Economy at Kaxil Uinic Village, Belize (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gertrude Kilgore. Brooke Bonorden. Brett Houk.

    Following the outbreak of the Caste War in the Yucatán (1847-1901), a group of San Pedro Maya established the village of Kaxil Uinic in northwestern Belize (formerly British Honduras). In the wake of the Battle of San Pedro between British and Maya forces in 1867, the Lieutenant Governor of British Honduras issued a decree to delegitimize San Pedro Maya claims to land, undermining their subsistence economy and forcing them into wage labor for the logging and chicle industries. O. Nigel Bolland...

  • The Maya: Historic Archaeology and Archaeology of Historic Periods (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Leventhal.

    The study of the ancient Maya has become complicated over the past 30 years. As the ancient Maya writing has been deciphered, these texts provide an historical record of parts of the ancient social and political systems. This development has moved the study of the Maya past into the realm of historic archaeology. In addition, the study of the colonial period in the Maya area has focused upon Spanish and indigenous texts to understand this historic period but additionally to create analogical...

  • Ours and Theirs: Chapels and Community Dynamics at Rancho Kiuic, Yucatán, México (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Maggie Morgan-Smith.

    Drawing on recent excavation and oral history data from the site of Rancho Kiuic, this paper will compare information related to two chapels located within the community. Formerly known as San Sebastián, the community functioned from the late Colonial to National periods as a ranching operation occupied by several generations of Maya-speaking landowners and laborers. Though the two chapels (Capillas I and II) share a number of structural and temporal characteristics, their respective locations,...

  • Twenty Years of Historical Archaeology in the Yalahau and Costa Escondida Regions (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Mathews. John Gust. Scott Fedick.

    Since the mid-1990s, members of the Yalahau and Costa Escondida projects have focused on historical archaeology in northern Quintana Roo. Our research has examined the remnants of the chicle (chewing gum), sugar cane and small-batch rum industries from the late 1800s. Although these sites are relatively recent, the production equipment and other artifacts have been picked through by later occupants, making it challenging to be able to reconstruct the historic record. In an attempt to overcome...