Saturday May 13, 2006  Dr. Jeremy Sabloff, "It Depends on How We Look at Things: Perspectives on the Postclassic Period in the Northern Maya Lowlands."

Dr. Jeremy Sabloff addressed and challenged some of the traditional beliefs about the Postclassic Maya in his May talk. More than three decades ago, William L. Rathje and Dr. Sabloff argued that it was time for Maya scholars to reexamine the Postclassic Period.   More specifically, they contended that the Postclassic was a time of growing economic and political complexity, not a period of decline and decadence. They posited that the rising growth of mercantile interests played a key role in these developments.  In effect, they argued that spectacular buildings and sophisticated, monumental works of art were not always a necessary measure of cultural complexity, and their presence in the Classic period and relative absence in the Postclassic did not mean that the latter period was less complex. Many Maya archaeologists have often contended that a decrease in complexity, even to the point of decadence, was a hallmark of the Postclassic period. Dr. Sabloff now counters this more traditional view with a new perspective which has been refined and strengthened by a host of research projects in recent years.  His talk examined some of these new scholarly understandings of the Postclassic Period, with special attention to the Late Postclassic within the Northern Maya Lowlands.

Dr. Sabloff is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and a curator of the American section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964, and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1969. Dr. Sabloff has taught at  Harvard University, the University of New Mexico, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Utah, and was a visiting Fellow at the St. John's College in Cambridge,  England. He served as the Charles K. Williams II Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum from 1994 through 2004, increasing research projects and traveling exhibitions, as well as securing funding for and overseeing the construction of the Mainwaring Wing for Collections Storage and Study. He is the author or editor of more than 20 books and 130 articles, including Excavations at Seibal: Ceramics, The Cities of Ancient Mexico, The New Archaeology,  Ancient Maya,  Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica, Cozumel: Late Maya Settlement Patterns, and The Ancient Maya City of Sayil. He was President of the Society for American Archaeology, Chair of Section H, Anthropology, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was the Editor of American Antiquity. He currently sits on numerous editorial boards including  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Latin American Antiquity, Journal of Anthropological Research, and Archaeology Magazine. He is Chair of the Smithsonian Council and is President of the Kolb Foundation.

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