Under the direction of Dr. Olivier de Montmollin, Mr. J. Gregory Smith will collect data for his doctoral dissertation. He will conduct archaeological excavation and survey at the Mayan site of Ichmul which is located in the northern Peten region of Mexico. While large enough to include a closed plaza surrounded by vaulted architecture and a substantial pyramid nearly 18 meters in height, based on size, Ichmul is a `minor` center. It lies between two larger political capitals, Chichen Itza and Ek Balam and is particularly interesting because, in its architecture, ceramic assemblages and stone iconography it shows relations to both. The goal of the research is to examine the degree of independence which Ichmul exercised and the nature of its interactions with its neighbors. Mr. Smith delineates three possible relationships: autonomy, indirect control and direct control; the survey and excavation to be conducted will, hopefully, permit identification of the correct model. The project includes five goals: mapping of the domestic settlement adjacent to the civic architecture; test excavations in a wide-range of settlement contexts; examination of previously located sites in the transect area between Chichen Itza and Ek Balam to map and surface collect ceramics and other cultural materials; test excavations at a sample of these transect sites; mapping and test-pitting a sample of non-site cleared fields in the transect to better understand these rural hinterlands. Archaeologists recognize that individual Mayan sites were integrated into larger political networks and that by discovering the extent of each and tracing how they changed over time it is possible to understand the principles which underlie such political organization. While much work has focused on major centers, relatively little is known about rural hinterlands and how centers exerted - or did not exert - control over these regions. Mr. Smith's research will directly address this important question. It will also assist in training a promising young scientist.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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University of Pittsburgh
United States
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