Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Migration, Resettlement, and Transition in the Aftermath of the Maya Collapse: A Case Study of a Terminal Classic Maya Community in Northern Belize
by Ferguson, Josalyn M., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2019, 690; 13879284
Abstract (Summary)

While there is consensus that the processes of decline and abandonment at many sites associated with the Terminal Classic Maya “collapse” (A.D. 750-1050) included the movement of peoples across the Maya lowlands, there has been little focused archaeological research on the resettlement and regeneration of these migrant groups. The movement of peoples across the Maya landscape was partially encouraged by a declining and ever increasingly taxed environment, as well as a revolution in exchange systems, with a notable increase in entrepreneurialism across the Maya subarea. This more integrated economic system focused on a wider range of commodities that served to link polities and regions on a more inclusive scale. As a result, many regions experienced marked population growths with the expansion of existing settlements, the resettlement of previously abandoned sites, and the establishment of new communities. While in recent years some scholars have begun to investigate Maya immigrants using biological and chemical scientific methods, the archaeological investigation of the resettlement of a migrant or immigrant community in wake of the Maya “collapse” has remained somewhat elusive.

The Progresso Lagoon region of northern Belize is one area that witnessed substantial population growths during the Terminal Classic period. Seeking to flee their own deteriorating existences, migrants came to the region to take advantage of the changing sociopolitical and economic milieu of the period, the regions previously “rural” location between the former dominant polities of the central Maya Lowlands and the expanding polities of the northern Yucatán and capitalize on the area’s access to water routes and abundant natural resources. The Strath Bogue site provided a unique opportunity to examine the interwoven processes of collapse, migration and resettlement.

Through the examination and discussion of multiple intersecting lines of data, including ethnographic, epigraphic, material culture analyses, this research has demonstrated the identification, resettlement and regeneration of a migrant Maya community in the aftermath of the Maya collapse. These data were ultimately examined in light of three proposed models of community regeneration in Results of this research have confirmed that this community was able to mitigate the disorder of the “collapse” and negotiate a new existence for themselves in northern Belize, while attempting to maintain connections to their former life and integrating themselves within the growing Progresso Lagoon community and northern Belize region populous.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Masson, Marilyn A.
Commitee: Rosenswig, Robert, Walker, Debra
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Maya collapse, Migration, Northern belize, Precolumbian maya, Progresso lagoon, Terminal classic period
Publication Number: 13879284
ISBN: 978-1-392-17441-8
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