Close to the Edge; 19th Century Maya refugees at Tikal, Guatemala.

Author(s): James Meierhoff; Joel Palka

Year: 2015


In the second half of the nineteenth century, the ancient Maya city of Tikal, Guatemala, was briefly re occupied by Yucatec refugees fleeing the Caste War of Yucatan. The Tikal village was poised on the confluence of the frontiers of Mexico, Guatemala and British Honduras, as well as the belligerent Santa Cruz Maya from Yucatan. Despite the limited presence of settled European diasporas in the northern Petén, colonial institutions were still able to reach indigenous communities seeking refuge within the frontier zone. However, due to the positioning of these remote communities, they were well equipped to interact and attempt a renegotiation to outside pressures and markets on their own terms. Communities in the frontier zone had forest products desired in the informal regional exchange spheres, such as game animals, incense, bee's wax, and tobacco. In the case of the Tikal village, the inhabitants exploited the differing conceptual uses of the same space to obtain a wide array of exotic and foreign manufactured goods, including metal tools, guns, and decorated pottery, while seeking a new life and autonomy within the" Last Maya Frontier".

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Cite this Record

Close to the Edge; 19th Century Maya refugees at Tikal, Guatemala.. James Meierhoff, Joel Palka. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395189)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;