May 14, 2011 Reiko Ishihara, PhD: "Bridging the Chasm Between Religion and Politics: Archaeological Evidence of Maya Ritual Practices  at Aguateca, Peten, Guatemala"

    Archaeological investigations in the Main Chasm, a deep chasm that runs through the Late Classic (AD 600–900) Maya site of Aguateca, Peten, Guatemala, revealed evidence of a variety of ritual practices, suggesting that chasms, like caves, represent potent cosmological and religious places where ancestral and supernatural spirits can be reached. This counters previous suggestions that the chasm may have served defensive purposes at a time of turbulent politics in the Petexbatun region. Evidence of the diverse activities carried out in distinct spaces of the chasm was presented, contextualized within the political and settlement history of Aguateca.
    Reiko Ishihara-Brito is currently a Post-doctoral Associate in Maya Studies at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, DC, working on a publication project on the Dumbarton Oaks Maya collection. She is also co-directing a community education project in Tecpan, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, that uses archaeological materials and processes to teach local history, culture and primary school level social sciences. She graduated from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and completed her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California in Riverside. Her current research interests include not only Maya archaeology with a specific focus on cave uses, but also extend to heritage conservation and education.

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