When Worlds Collide: Understanding the Effects of Maya-Teotihuacán Interaction on Ancient Maya Identity and Community
Foley, Jennifer Marie
My research, centered at the Early Classic (350-450 AD) site of La Sufricaya, located in the Holmul region of Peten, Guatemala, examines a contested topic in Ancient Maya history –the nature of cross-cultural interaction between the Maya and Teotihacán- through the lens of ethnic identity. In doing so I suggest that cross-cultural interaction creates moments of ethnogenesis in which Maya rulers created an elite imagined regional community that was based on symbols of rulership derived from Teotihuacán and cemented by the exchange, trade and gifting of foreign material culture that served as practices of affiliation. My research combines the analysis of archaeological material remains, historical hieroglyphic inscriptions, and art historical analysis of iconography to elucidate how contact with foreigners may have affected life at La Sufricaya, as well as the impact on elite Maya identity on a regional level. My excavations within the palace sought to elucidate the sociopolitical history of La Sufricaya, including its role within the Holmul region and the nature of cross-cultural interaction between the Maya of La Sufricaya and Teotihuacán. Evidence suggests that the lords of La Sufricaya were involved in, or witness to, the 11 Eb Entrada (378 AD) events that ushered in a new political regime that was tied to Teotihuacán and focused at the nearby site of Tikal.