April 9, 2016 Penn Museum: Joanne Baron, PhD, Director, La Florida Archaeology Project; Consulting Scholar, Penn Museum: "River Lords: Namaan and the Classic Maya Political Landscape"

            In 686, the dying Piedras Negras ruler negotiated a betrothal between his son, K’inich Yo’nal Ahk II, and a 12-year-old princess from the Namaan polity. Though he died before he could witness the wedding 6 days later, the marriage that he negotiated with Namaan would be celebrated on his son’s monuments for decades. Why was this alliance so important to Piedras Negras? A matter of speculation for years, we now know that Namaan was the archaeological site of La Florida, located on the modern town of El Naranjo, Guatemala. The site is home to several architectural groups, pyramids 16 meters tall, and commanding views of the San Pedro Martir River. We also know that Namaan’s political relationships went far beyond Piedras Negras, to other Classic Maya kingdoms as far north as Calakmul and as far south as Huehuetenango. In this talk, Dr. Baron discussed what they know about the Namaan polity, what they have discovered from recent mapping expeditions to the site, and what they hope to accomplish through a long-term program of excavations. She also discussed their ongoing community engagement initiatives, and the potential of this region for international tourism.

            Joanne Baron is the director of the La Florida Archaeology Project, together with Liliana Padilla. She earned her Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of Pennsylvania, and now serves as a consulting scholar at the Penn Museum. She has worked in the Maya area for the past 12 years, conducting excavations at sites in Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala. She first explored La Florida in 2013 and will begin excavations there in October. Dr. Baron’s edited volume, Political Strategies in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica recently became available from the University Press of Colorado. Her book about Classic Maya patron deities is also on the way.

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