Airborne LiDAR has revolutionized archaeological research, especially in the Lowlands of the Maya Area. This is the case of two archaeological projects in southern Mexico, the Middle Usumacinta Archaeological Project and the Bajo Laberinto Archaeological Project. As part of the international team of researchers leading these projects, archaeologists Verónica A. Vázquez López and Felix A. Kupprat will present at Sapienza their recent investigations in the Maya Lowlands of Mexico.

The 13th of December 2022, join us the Ancient World Studies Department at Sapienza to meet with my colleagues Drs. Verónica Vázquez López from Tulane University and Dr. Felix Kupprat from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

From 17-19 hours (Rome), in presence at the Sapienza University of Rome, Room: ODEION

and in hybrid modality, via zoom:

Meeting ID: 952 4366 3714; Passcode: 011074

The first talk will be:

“Middle Preclassic communities in Aguada Fenix and the Middle Usumacinta region”

It will be presented by Dr. Verónica Vázquez López, but it is a collective work with Daniela Triadan (Universidad de Arizona), Takeshi Inomata (Universidad de Arizona), María Belén Méndez Bauer (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Melina García Hernández (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Flory Pinzón (Universidad del Valle de Guatemala).

Abstract: The recent discovery and exploration of Aguada Fénix (Mexico), by the Middle Usumacinta Archaeological Project, forces us to rethink the social and cultural relationships of the Preclassic inhabitants of this region during ca. 1200—700 BCE, particularly with respect to their neighbors on the Gulf Coast and in the Maya Lowlands. The site stands out due to its monumental earthen architecture that includes a massive rectangular platform delimited by low structures. An E group is in the platform’s center, associated with ritual deposits similar to traditions identified at sites in the Grijalva River region, the Gulf Coast, and the Maya Lowlands, which suggests significant interaction among these regions.

The spatial arrangement of the site embodies significant symbolic meaning, which is reinforced by the frequent presence of partial offerings in the construction fills and more complex offerings in the E group. The horizontal monumentality of the platform points to a considerable community effort that required a substantial mobilization of labor. The absence of indicators for a pronounced social hierarchy suggests that the construction of monumental architecture did not depend exclusively on a centralized authority. In this talk we present some results of the explorations in Aguada Fénix to characterize the local population in terms of material culture and social organization and to reflect on the processes that gave rise to this type of communal project.

The second talk:

“Archaeology and Remote Sensing in the Mexican Rain Forest: Defining a Maya Megalopolis”

It will be presented by Dr. Felix Kupprat, as a collaborative effort with Kathryn Reese-Taylor (University of Calgary), F. C. Atasta Flores Esquivel (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Armando Anaya Hernández (Universidad Autónoma de Campeche), Nicholas P. Dunning (University of Cincinnati), Debra S. Walker (University of Florida), Verónica A. Vázquez López (Tulane University), Adriana Velázquez Morlet (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia).

Abstract: Recent investigations, including airborne lidar surveys, have contributed significantly to our understanding of urban systems in the south of Campeche, Mexico. Centered on the large seasonal wetland known as Bajo Laberinto, our project has focused on the site of Yaxnohcah and, more recently, Calakmul and its surroundings. Population density in the whole area seems to have peaked in the Late Classic period (550-900 CE), a development that correlates with the establishment of the Kanu’l dynasty at Calakmul. However, both Yaxnohcah and Calakmul show clear evidence of Preclassic (1000 BCE–200 CE) site planning and monumentality. In this talk, we outline urban development, subsistence strategies, public rituality, and sociopolitics in the Bajo Laberinto region over the course of two millennia.

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