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Investigations at San Andres Semetabaj and the Problematics of Middle to Late PreClassic Highland Archaeology

Author(s): Arthur Demarest ; Carlos Alvarado ; Tomas Barrientos

Year: 2017

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The site of San Andres Semetabaj, Guatemala, located on the northern edge of Lake Atitlan, is central, geographically and chronologically, to major theoretical and culture-historical controversies and problems of PreClassic highland archaeology. The size, nature, and importance of the site have been underestimated, in part due to limited available information based only on smaller preliminary seasons and a looted tomb and also due to the assumption by many that the very large structures there were Late PreClassic and/or Late Classic. Now a larger long term project there has begun and is completing its first season. Preliminary results confirm that the epicenter structures, including temples of eight to eleven meters in height, were Middle PreClassic with only a few mounds, one large, dating to the Early Classic, but after a clear hiatus. The investigation also reveals the large scale of the site and has identified related small centers. The nature, dating, and location of Semetabaj make it central to interpretation of Middle PreClassic highland and coastal exchange systems. It also falls fortuitously directly into the ongoing controversy on Middle PreClassic chronology. The Semetabaj Regional Archaeological Project will provide evidence and analyses that address these current issues of PreClassic highland archaeology.

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Investigations at San Andres Semetabaj and the Problematics of Middle to Late PreClassic Highland Archaeology. Arthur Demarest, Carlos Alvarado, Tomas Barrientos. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431291)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16511

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