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Grant number like: RZ-50680-07

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

Collaborative Research
Research Programs

[Media coverage]

$120,000 (approved)
$120,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2008 – 6/30/2011

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

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.