Ancient and Contemporary Maya Ruins as Living Landscapes

Author(s): Christina Halperin

Year: 2023


This is an abstract from the "The Vibrancy of Ruins: Ruination Studies in Ancient Mesoamerica" session, at the 88th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Ruination studies allow one to see the past not as a fixed “thing” but as living landscapes that emerge from, enliven, and incorporate temporal dimensions, ancestors, and animating forces young and old, near and far. Furthermore, over the past two decades Mesoamerican scholars have increasingly recognized that ruins were an integral part of ancient Mesoamerican peoples’ own experiences rather than just limited to contemporary engagements with a distant precolumbian past. This paper examines ruins in the Maya area from two interrelated perspectives, the notion of k’exoj, generational continuity through transformation, and k’ax, a living forest, both of which are useful for thinking about the temporality and animacy of ruins. Using case examples from archaeological sites in Petén, Guatemala, I consider the implications of incorporating Indigenous ontologies in the understanding and making of ruins. I argue that the living forest was always—and continues to be—a part of this process.

Cite this Record

Ancient and Contemporary Maya Ruins as Living Landscapes. Christina Halperin. Presented at The 88th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. 2023 ( tDAR id: 473329)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 36104.0