Academic journal article Antiquity

Special Section: New Dialogues about Ancient Maya

Academic journal article Antiquity

Special Section: New Dialogues about Ancient Maya

Article excerpt

Most people think of Maya civilisation, if they do at all, while on vacation. A daytrip from a beach takes them to ruins nearby, crowded with tourists in correct holiday gear. In the recent past, others might have grown anxious about the portentous significance of the year 2012. Maya glyphs, so the hucksters affirmed, predicted a cascade of dire events, not one of which (predictably) has come to pass. Then there are those living in Mayaland itself, an area embracing parts of Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and all of Belize. Their personal identities stem in part from a sense of direct inheritance, extending to rights of ownership and interpretation.

Maya archaeology may have originated from the travels of Stephens and Catherwood and others in the nineteenth century, and it draws deeply from neocolonialism. Despite growing challenges of funding, it continues to thrust ahead, with excavations in all regions, directed at sites of all periods: Preclassic, Classic and Postclassic. Above all, Maya archaeology is robust, engaged and committed to deeper reflection about current and future states of the field. …

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