Panos Kratimenos

Working title: Ventrally placed, legs flexed (VPLF) burials as a proxy for cultural and political change at Marco Gonzalez, Belize

Through the proxy of shifting burial practices seen at Marco Gonzalez, Belize, this project will explore the considerable cultural shift which occurred during the Classic-Postclassic transition (A.D.800-1,000) in the Maya world. This poorly-understood period, conventionally considered one of 'Collapse,' saw wholescale transformations in cultural practices and the depopulation of several previously prominent sites. However, this was not mirrored across the Maya region with certain coastal Belizean sites, as well as others in northern Yucatán, surviving and in some cases reaching their zenith post-Collapse. Marco Gonzalez, and the larger inland site of Lamanai, with which Marco Gonzalez appears to have shared close economic ties, were two such cases.

Only one other period sees comparably significant changes in burial patterns at Marco Gonzalez: the Spanish Conquest. As such, the adoption of the ventrally placed, legs flexed (VPLF) burial style at Marco Gonzalez during the Classic-Postclassic transition suggests a time of unprecedented cultural and political change. This is borne out by the stark cultural shift seen in contemporaneous material remains from Marco Gonzalez and its locale at this time. In the hope of elucidating this time of great change in the Maya world, this project will approach the VPLF burials multidisciplinarily, through a synthesis of scientific and cultural methods including the physical examination of previously-excavated materials, re-evaluation of previous excavations, interpretation of burial contexts, palaeodemography, ethnography and fresh excavations. In so doing, it is hoped that this research may have broader implications for our understanding of the Maya Collapse on the whole, as well as contribute to a more nuanced appreciation for how past societies have approached issues such as 'religion,' 'ethnicity,' and ‘class’ which we still struggle with today.

Supervisors

 Educational background

  • BA History, University College London, 2014
  • MSc Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology, University College London, 2015

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