facebookpixel
Select Page

Redefining Ancient Maya Culture Through the Study of the 99 Percent

Aug 7, 2019

Archaeological research often provides spectacular insights regarding temples and treasures of past. However, studying the lives of everyday people has led archaeologists, including Jerry Sabloff, down a path that has helped to revolutionize our understanding civilizations in new and more comprehensive ways.

 

An SAR board member and eminent archaeologist, Jerry Sabloff has devoted considerable effort to the study of settlement patterns in Mexico and Central America—the when, where and how non-elite Maya people lived and worked. Sabloff discusses his discoveries in a Q&A interview in the 2019 issue of Knowable Magazine.

 

In the piece, Sabloff notes that wealthy museums, foundations, and individuals used to set the agenda for archeological study, and they wanted spectacular finds, along the lines of King Tut’s tomb, to bring back to museums. However, after World War II, the field began to change so that by the 1960s, archaeologists were able to find support for researching entire settlements, not simply major buildings.

This approach, plus modern remote-sensing technology such as LIDAR, which uses lasers to map ground topography, has allowed archaeologists to expand our knowledge exponentially. Sabloff notes in the Knowable Magazine piece:

This concern with settlement pattern, with looking at the 100 percent instead of just the 1 percent, not only broadened our understanding, but completely changed it. The older view of the Maya was of a non-urban, peaceful people ruled by priest-astronomers. The elaborate temples people had found at Tikal and elsewhere were thought to be merely ceremonial centers with minimal populations, and not cities in their own right. But mapping projects at Tikal and other places showed that they weren’t just ceremonial centers—there were large numbers of remains of houses. These were actually urban centers of some kind. That totally changed the understanding of the pre-Columbian Maya.

The interview was prompted by the upcoming Annual Review of Anthropology October 2019 issue, which will feature Sabloff’s scholarly article “How Maya Archaeologists Discovered the 99% Through the Study of Settlement Patterns”.


 

Interested in finding out more about Sabloff’s long-term research and study of Pre-Columbian Maya culture? Join us for his In-Depth class at SAR this November

“An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Maya Civilization”

Learn more and register for the course here. Space is limited.

 


 

Sabloff received his Ph.D. In anthropology from Harvard University and his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania and External Professor, Emeritus and Past President of the Santa Fe Institute.

Sabloff has been the editor or co-editor of several SAR Press books and participant in five former SAR Advanced Seminars. His SAR Press books include: Ancient Civilization and Trade, Tikal: Dynasties, Foreigners, & Affairs of State, Simulations in Archaeology, Late Lowland Maya Civilization, and The Ancient City. His Advanced Seminars include: Changing Perspectives on Tikal and the Development of Maya Civilization in 1999, After the Fall: New Perspectives on the Postclassic Period in the Maya Lowlands in 1982, The Use of Systems Models and Computer Simulations in the Study of Complex Societies: Future Trends in Archaeological Research in 1978, and Ancient Civilization and Trade in 1973, and The Collapse of Classic Maya Civilization in 1970.

 

Follow SAR

Upcoming Events

Oct
2
Sun
2022
1:00 pm Grounded in Clay: Making Earth C... @ Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
Grounded in Clay: Making Earth C... @ Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
Oct 2 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Grounded in Clay: Making Earth Clay with Kathleen Wall @ Museum of Indian Arts & Culture | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Grounded in Clay: Making Earth Clay with Kathleen Wall Join renowned artist Kathleen Wall (Jemez) for an afternoon of processing clay and making pinch pots. This short workshop affords participants the opportunity to get hands-on[...]
Oct
5
Wed
2022
2:00 pm Scholar Colloquium: Making Tropi... @ Hosted online. Register below.
Scholar Colloquium: Making Tropi... @ Hosted online. Register below.
Oct 5 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Scholar Colloquium: Making Tropical Africa in the Georgia Sea Islands @ Hosted online. Register below.
Paulla Ebron, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, and SAR’s 2022 Wenner-Gren fellow. Paulla Ebron2022 – 2023Wenner-Gren FellowAffiliation at time of Award: Associate Professor Department of Anthropology Stanford University Making Tropical Africa in the[...]
Oct
6
Thu
2022
2:00 pm Creative Thought Forum | Footpri... @ Online
Creative Thought Forum | Footpri... @ Online
Oct 6 @ 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
Creative Thought Forum | Footprints from White Sands: Discovery, Dating, and Significance @ Online | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Register here. LINDA S. CORDELL LECTURE Footprints from White Sands: Discovery, Dating, and Significance Matthew Bennett, David Bustos, Vance Holliday When David Bustos, archaeologist and resource program manager at White Sands National Park, discovered prehistoric[...]
6:00 pm SAR Artists Live on Instagram wi... @ SAR's Instagram page
SAR Artists Live on Instagram wi... @ SAR's Instagram page
Oct 6 @ 6:00 pm – 6:30 pm
SAR Artists Live on Instagram with Arlo Namingha @ SAR's Instagram page | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
JOIN INSTAGRAM HERE Tune into SAR Artists Live on Thursday, October 6 at 6:00 p.m. MDT to hear about “Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery”, firsthand, from one if it’s curators: Arlo Namingha.[...]
Oct
7
Fri
2022
10:00 am Walking History Tour of the SAR ... @ School for Advanced Research
Walking History Tour of the SAR ... @ School for Advanced Research
Oct 7 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Walking History Tour of the SAR Campus @ School for Advanced Research | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Map of El Delirio (1927), now SAR’s campus Explore the fascinating history, stunning architecture, and beautiful outdoor gardens—including the famous pet cemetery—of the 1920s home of Amelia Elizabeth White and Martha Root White. The secluded[...]
Oct
11
Tue
2022
8:00 am President’s Circle Trip to Oklahoma @ Oklahoma
President’s Circle Trip to Oklahoma @ Oklahoma
Oct 11 @ 8:00 am – Oct 15 @ 6:00 pm
President's Circle Trip to Oklahoma @ Oklahoma
New Directions: An Insider’s Look at Native American Collections Okla Homma A tour for President’s Circle members with an optional overnight extension to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art October 11-15, 2022 Okla Homma, which[...]
Oct
14
Fri
2022
10:00 am Walking History Tour of the SAR ... @ School for Advanced Research
Walking History Tour of the SAR ... @ School for Advanced Research
Oct 14 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Walking History Tour of the SAR Campus @ School for Advanced Research | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Map of El Delirio (1927), now SAR’s campus Explore the fascinating history, stunning architecture, and beautiful outdoor gardens—including the famous pet cemetery—of the 1920s home of Amelia Elizabeth White and Martha Root White. The secluded[...]
Oct
19
Wed
2022
2:00 pm Scholar Colloquium: Indian Musli... @ Hosted online. Register below.
Scholar Colloquium: Indian Musli... @ Hosted online. Register below.
Oct 19 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Scholar Colloquium: Indian Muslim Poetry, Ethics, and Politics in an Age of Hindu Nationalism @ Hosted online. Register below.
Anand Taneja, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Vanderbilt University, and SAR’s 2022 Weatherhead Fellow Anand Taneja2022 – 2023Weatherhead FellowAffiliation at time of Award: Assistant Professor Department of Religious Studies Vanderbilt University Indian Muslim Poetry,[...]

Pin It on Pinterest

Share this

Share this post with your friends!