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
16
Wed
2019
12:00 pm On the Delhi Metro: Urban Landsc... @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
On the Delhi Metro: Urban Landsc... @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
Oct 16 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
On the Delhi Metro: Urban Landscape, Transport Infrastructure, and Social Mobility in a 21st-century Megacity @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT HERE Rashmi Sadana, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University and Weatherhead fellow at SAR Rashmi Sadana, Weatherhead fellow, SAR What happens when a hyper-modern, state-of-the-art metro rail[...]
6:30 pm Creative Thought Forum Lecture: ... @ Santa Fe Convention Center
Creative Thought Forum Lecture: ... @ Santa Fe Convention Center
Oct 16 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Creative Thought Forum Lecture: Superminds, The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together @ Santa Fe Convention Center | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
REGISTER FOR THE LECTURE HERE SAR’s third annual Creative Thought Forum series invites members and the public to explore our understanding of where humanity is going in a new age of technological and cultural shifts[...]
Oct
17
Thu
2019
10:00 am Creative Thought Forum Salon: Su... @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
Creative Thought Forum Salon: Su... @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
Oct 17 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Creative Thought Forum Salon: Superminds, The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
The Thursday following the lecture, SAR hosts an informal salon discussion with Thomas Malone, the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the founding director of the MIT[...]
Oct
18
Fri
2019
10:00 am Walking Tours of SAR’s Historic ... @ School for Advanced Research
Walking Tours of SAR’s Historic ... @ School for Advanced Research
Oct 18 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Walking Tours of SAR's Historic Estate @ School for Advanced Research | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Reservations for campus tours must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Explore the fascinating history, stunning architecture, and beautiful outdoor gardens of the School for Advanced Research. Originally the 1920s home of Amelia[...]
2:00 pm Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Oct 18 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) houses an outstanding collection of Native American art, including pottery, jewelry, textiles and clothing, paintings, basketry, and drums. With more than 12,000, items, the IARC is home to works[...]
Oct
22
Tue
2019
10:00 am SAR In Depth: Rock Art of the Ri... @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
SAR In Depth: Rock Art of the Ri... @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
Oct 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
SAR In Depth: Rock Art of the Rio Grande Basin in Northern New Mexico @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
The School for Advanced Research offers innovative and thought-provoking classes on a range of topics for SAR members and the general public. Courses often have opportunities to engage with rarely seen works in the IARC[...]
Oct
23
Wed
2019
12:00 pm Chihuahuan Desert History @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
Chihuahuan Desert History @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
Oct 23 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Chihuahuan Desert History @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT HERE C.J. Alvarez, Assistant Professor, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, University of Texas, Austin, and Mellon fellow at SAR C.J. Alvarez, Mellon fellow, SARThis talk offers preliminary answers to[...]
7:00 pm Film: The Lost City of the Monke... @ Voilet Crown Cinema
Film: The Lost City of the Monke... @ Voilet Crown Cinema
Oct 23 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Film: The Lost City of the Monkey God @ Voilet Crown Cinema | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
REGISTER FOR THE FILM HERE $125 SAR members // $150 not-yet-members (all but $25 from each ticket is tax deductible) Proceeds support the advancement of knowledge and understanding of humanity through SAR’s scholar and artist programs.[...]

Pin It on Pinterest

Share this

Share this post with your friends!