Continuities in Highland Maya Social Organization: Ethnohistory in Sacapulas, Guatemala

Continuities in Highland Maya Social Organization: Ethnohistory in Sacapulas, Guatemala

Continuities in Highland Maya Social Organization: Ethnohistory in Sacapulas, Guatemala

Continuities in Highland Maya Social Organization: Ethnohistory in Sacapulas, Guatemala

Excerpt

The authors' interest in Sacapulas began when one of us (Hill) and Ruben E. Reina visited there briefly in the summer of 1974. while studying traditional pottery making (Reina and Hill 1978). We returned again in 1976 and spent several days inspecting the numerous archaeological sites in the municipio. The size and density of sites, particularly from the immediate preconquest period, struck us as unusual and worthy of further investigation. At the same time, we were aware of some documents pertaining to Sacapulas in the Archivo General de Centro America (AGCA) in Guatemala that had been cited in R. M. Carmack survey (1973) of edmohistorical sources for the Quiché Maya. A brief search of the archive's files in 1976 turned up many more documents. Accordingly, we arranged for typed transcripts of all the Sacapulas documents with Horacio Cabezas. Over the next several years ethnohistorical work on Sacapulas stopped while Hill was engaged in archaeological investigations with the Misión Científica Franco-Guatemalteca, downstream from Sacapulas on the Río Negro, which contributed to his doctoral dissertation. However, ethnohistorical research connected with the thesis did produce the model of the chinamit that is one of the keys to understanding Sacapulas' organization.

In 1979 Reina introduced Monaghan to Sacapulas. He and Reina spent three weeks there making general ethnographic observations and documenting the ancient salt-making process (Reina and Monaghan 1981). Monaghan returned in the summer of 1980 for three months of intensive ethnographic fieldwork focusing on cantón and municipio organization. The results of that work appear in this volume in Chapters 1 and 9. Meanwhile, from 1979 through 1983, Hill worked with the transcripts of the documents from the AGCA. In the summer of 1983 Hill spent a month in Sacapulas checking, on the ground, information about boundaries and archaeological sites contained in the documents, as well as examining the parochial archive. During this visit he learned that the municipal archives had been burned by terrorists during the unsettled months of 1981-82. Thus, our plans to supplement the study with information from this local source were laid to rest, and an unknown amount of Sacapulas' past was lost.

While our initial interest with Sacapulas was basically archaeological, we soon became intrigued with theoretical and methodological concerns.

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