Keynote Speakers, 2019 SCCM

Keynote Address for Friday

The Role of Collective Action in Land Tenure Systems at the Ancient Maya Site of Actuncan, Belize
Dr. Lisa LeCount, Professor, University of Alabama

I suggest that collective action played an important role in the established of property rights and land tenure systems at the Maya site of Actuncan, Belize.  This interpretation is based on settlement patterns in the urban core of the site that were reconstructed through both excavation and remote sensing programs.  Excavations into patio-focused groups provide data to reconstruct residential histories and the timing for the founding of the political center in the Terminal Preclassic (B.C. 100 to A.D. 300).  A gradiometer survey and ground-truthing testing program correlate two types of magnetic signatures to buried residential platforms and non-domestic constructions including agricultural features and craft-activity work areas.  Combined, these research programs provide a more complete assessment of houselot organization and improvements, as well as how the nature of property changed from the center’s founding to the Terminal Classic period (A.D 780 to 900).  Spatial analyses document that houselots did not cluster through time; however, they became smaller and more improved in the Classic period lending evidence to suggest a communal land system with increasing privatization.  Both community and polity institutions were involved in community affairs given access patterns to administrative architecture in the civic core and in the settlement. 

Keynote Address for Saturday

Re-Imagining the Ancient Maya Landscape: Lidar’s Lessons and Limits in 21st Century Settlement Archaeology
Dr. Thomas Garrison, Assistant Professor, Ithaca College, NY

It has been a decade since the first lidar images at Caracol sent shock waves through Maya archaeology. Since that time, developments in instruments, data collection, and ground-truthing methods have transformed regional perspectives on lowland Maya civilization. This paper focuses on the landscape of the Buenavista Valley, a natural corridor connecting to the great city of Tikal to the western Maya Lowlands, and inclusive of the ancient kingdom of El Zotz. Data from the Pacunam Lidar Initiative (PLI) have transformed our understanding of regional developments in the valley, revealing seismic changes, conflict, and the strategic construction of landesque capital. While lidar has undoubtedly forever altered our perspectives of this region, ground-truthing efforts suggest that our knowledge is imperfect and we must continue to test the limits of new technologies even as they revolutionize our field.

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