Settlement Archaeology at Quirigua, Guatemala

Settlement Archaeology at Quirigua, Guatemala

Settlement Archaeology at Quirigua, Guatemala

Settlement Archaeology at Quirigua, Guatemala


This monograph reports the results of the Quirigua Project Site Periphery Program, five seasons (1975-1979) of archaeological survey and excavation in the 96 km2 immediately adjoining the classic Maya site of Quirigua. Ashmore identifies and helps us understand where and how the people of Quirigua lived. She presents detailed material evidence in two data catalogues, for the floodplain settlement adjoining Quirigua and for sites in the wider periphery.

The work situates Quirigua settlement firmly in a regional context, benefiting from the extraordinary abundance of information amassed in southeastern Mesoamerica since 1979. It sheds new light on the political, economic, and social dynamics of the region including the sometimes-fractious interactions between Quirigua, its overlords at Copan, and people elsewhere in the Lower Motagua Valley and beyond.


This monograph reports results of fieldwork conducted in 1975-1979; writing for the monograph concluded in 2004. As indicated in Chapter 1, the years between witnessed significant advances in pertinent bodies of knowledge—theory, data, and interpretation— all of which could thus be brought to bear on considering Quiriguá settlement herein. Inevitably, 2004 is an arbitrary benchmark; within the immediately ensuing year, significant new publications emerged, notably formal release of the School of American Research volume on Copán in 2005. While continuing to explore the ever-expanding corpus, however, I have resisted incorporating most newer works in text here, to avoid simply extending the writing process to another arbitrary cut-off point.

From conceptualization of field inquiry to completion of the manuscript, this work has benefited from the help and advice of many, both agencies and individuals. My doctoral advisor and longstanding friend, Robert J. Sharer, and the other invaluable members of my committee, Jacques Bordaz and Ruben E. Reina, guided and encouraged me in formulating the fieldwork and initial interpretations. I am deeply grateful to Quiriguá Project Directors Sharer and William R. Coe for the invitation to work at Quiriguá.

At the Instituto de Antropología e Historia, Guatemala, I thank Dr. Luis Luján Muñoz, Lic. Francis Polo Sifontes, Arq. Marcelino Gonzalez Cano, and our extremely capable foreman, Sr. Enrique Monterroso R. the extent of Monterroso’s contributions to the settlement research is acknowledged, if never fully enough, in repeated allusions to his work in the monograph.

Mr. B. Edward Taylor, Mr. Roy C. Wells, and Ing. Mario Mena, successive Managers of Bandegua, graciously granted access to the lands comprising the Quiriguá Floodplain Periphery. They also generously supplied maps and ditch-engineering profiles, lent us heavy equipment (including a dragline) and skilled operators, and on several occasions adjusted their plantation layout and planting schedule to accommodate archaeological needs.

Principal funding for the Project came from the University of Pennsylvania Museum (Francis Boyer Fund), the National Geographic Society, and the National Science Foundation (BNS 7602185, 7624189). An nsf Dissertation Improvement Grant (BNS 7603283) provided key support for the Site Periphery Program. Additional, much needed Project backing came from the Ford Foundation, the Tikal Association, the Guatemalan Ministry of Defense, and at the University of Pennsylvania, the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA) and the Department of Anthropology. the Project received generous support, as well, from Landon T. Clay, Alfred G. Zantzinger, and Dr. John M. Keshishian. a Travel-to-Collections Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RY-21512-85) enabled me to examine Quiriguá-related artifacts at the Middle American Institute, Tulane University.

Many local men worked with us in the field each year. I acknowledge with particular gratitude the contributions to settlement research from Sres. Seledonio Marcos, Alejandro Salguero, Raul Lopez, Juan Morataya, and above all, Humberto Padilla. Special tribute is in order for Project handyman, Sr. Max Seguenza.

Staff resident in camp were congenial and invaluably critical boosters: Julie Benyo, Bruce Bevan, Greta Z. Borie, Mary R. Bullard, Arlen and Diane Chase, Beth Collea Amato, Ira Fogel, Andrea Gerstle, Bob Hill, Chris Jones, Ed Schortman, John Seidel, David and Rebecca Sedat, Bob Sharer, Pat Urban, and John M. Weeks . . .

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