The Settlement Survey of Tikal

The Settlement Survey of Tikal

The Settlement Survey of Tikal

The Settlement Survey of Tikal

Synopsis

This study treats the entire corpus of stone and wood monuments from the Maya site of Tikal and lesser periphery locations. Each description includes details of provenience and condition. Every carved surface is illustrated by a standardized scale drawing, supplemented in almost every case by photographs.

Excerpt

In the winter season of 1961, there arrived at Tikal two eager undergraduates from Antioch College who had volunteered their services to the project. Since neither was thinking then of making archaeology a career, there was some concern about how useful their services would be. Nevertheless, their offer was accepted providing they could pay their own way down and back. At the time, I was carrying out the third season of small structure excavation, and quickly put in a bid for one of the “Sunshine Boys,” as we had already dubbed them, to serve as my field assistant. So it was that Dennis E. Puleston got involved in the investigation of ancient Maya settlement patterns.

Although Denny had no previous archaeological field experience, he quickly grasped the intricacies of small structure excavation, and soon was drawing plans and sections every bit as good as my own. Never have I seen anyone catch on so fast. Soon he was as fascinated by the implications of my work as I was myself. At the end of the season, when I became seriously ill, I had no reservations in leaving Denny to close down my operations.

Denny and I visited several times over the next two years, at which times I worked hard on him to forgo biology in favor of anthropology as a career. We both made arrangements to return to Tikal in the summer of 1963, by which time I had completed my dissertation. in it, I had borrowed from Satterthwaite (1951:2) the concept of a sustaining area, proposing that a large population living at Tikal consumed food that was raised by people living in a surrounding rural region (see Haviland 1963:538–539). Once in the field we began to follow up this idea with a series of informal weekend expeditions to places far beyond the confines of the 16 km map of tr. 11. One of the earliest of these was to Uolantun in 1963 with Santiago Cifuentes, one of the Tikal workmen. As we had read everything published on Uolantun in Morley’s (1937–38) The Inscriptions of Peten before we left, we were excited to find that it consisted of more than the reported single “temple” and stela. Both of us commented on this in our field notes, and Denny counted fifteen mounds and two chultuns. Two weeks later we made a similar excursion to Chikin Tikal with Edward Crocker and Rafael Morales F., who was then the newly appointed Director of the Tikal National Park. We followed the overgrown oil company road shown in Fig. 1. Halfway there we blundered off the trail into a large plaza group which I described and laughingly dubbed Taxicab, though we considered the names Uaxin Maxin and Mixta Xuc (the latter was later given to a minor center mapped by. . .

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