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Ritual and Politics at the Preclassic Maya Center of Ceibal, Guatemala

Takeshi Inomata, University of Arizona, Fellow 2015–2016

During my fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, I began working on a three-volume monograph series with my colleague, Daniela Triadan, to report the results of our research at the lowland Maya site of Ceibal, Guatemala. Although this is a large writing project that will require multiple years of work, the fellowship allowed me to make significant progress and to examine comparative data. The primary theme of our monographs is the origins of Maya civilization. We trace interplays between local processes, such as the transition to full sedentism and political centralization, and interactions with other areas, including Olmec civilization. Another theme of importance is political decline at the end of the Classic period. Our work demonstrates that this process involved multiple episodes of political collapse, which happened more rapidly than previously thought.

In addition, I worked on articles on Preclassic Maya lowland-highland relations (published in Antiquity) and the Maya concept of time (to be published in Journal de la Société des Américanistes), as well as book chapters on Andean plazas and the development of Maya ceremonial complexes. Along with these writing projects, I continued my research on Ceibal. At Dumbarton Oaks, I processed the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data of a 20 x 20 km area around Ceibal, which we obtained during the field season of spring 2015. This dataset shows the distribution of ceremonial complexes and residential groups over the landscape on an unprecedented scale.