Research Programs: Collaborative Research

Period of Performance

7/1/2008 - 6/30/2011

Funding Totals

$120,000.00 (approved)
$120,000.00 (awarded)

In the Shadow of a Giant: Archaeology of El Zotz, Guatemala

FAIN: RZ-50680-07

Brown University (Providence, RI 02912-9100)
Stephen Douglas Houston (Project Director: November 2006 to February 2012)

Archaeological investigation of the creation, character, and decline of the ancient Maya kingdom of El Zotz, near ancient Tikal, in present-day Guatemala. (36 months)

An enduring problem in studies of history and society is the question of political domination over people and landscape: how was such control achieved, and what were its varieties? An ideal setting to investigate this problem is the ancient Maya kingdom of El Zotz, Guatemala, which flourished in the middle years of the first millennium CE. At El Zotz, preliminary evidence indicates the sudden creation of a dynastic seat, with all the palatial and mortuary facilities associated with Maya rulership. The city appears to result from geopolitical strategy: (1) it was placed close to the immense Maya city of Tikal, with historical evidence of support from long-standing enemies of the Tikal dynasty; (2) it controlled a key route connecting two major regions of the Maya world; and (3) it flourished precisely when Tikal was weakened by surrounding dynasties of hostile intent. The proposal seeks funding to test whether these conditions applied and to augment understanding of past governance.

Media Coverage

Slideshow: Ancient Mayan ‘Place of Bats’ (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Chris Woolf
Publication: PRI's The World
Date: 7/24/2012
Abstract: This is a slide show and commentary on El Zotz, basd on an interview the project director, Stephen Houston, gave on the radio show PRI's The World.