Crossing Borders: What Isotope Geochemistry Reveals about Migration among the Maya

Author(s): Carolyn Freiwald

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Making and Breaking Boundaries in the Maya Lowlands: Alliance and Conflict across the Guatemala–Belize Border" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Present day conversations about migration focus on borders and limiting population movement with the presence of police, harsh regulations, and walls. This paper examines the concept of migration in the Maya region and what the past decade of isotope geochemistry research tells us about population movement and ancient boundaries. Was mobility bounded by physical places, such as rivers and mountains, or did it relate to political borders between regions with distinct ceramic and architectural styles? On a more basic level, how do patterns of population movement reveal aspects of societal organization and how it changed over space and time? This paper presents isotopic case studies from the Formative through Colonial periods to characterize mobility in Mesoamerica. I then focus on the Maya region, specifically the central lowlands, to interpret where people moved and what that tells us about boundaries, both social and political.

Cite this Record

Crossing Borders: What Isotope Geochemistry Reveals about Migration among the Maya. Carolyn Freiwald. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451056)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25110