May 10, 2014 Whit Schroder, Graduate Student, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Anthropology: "Regional Reconnaissance along the Middle Usumacinta River: Understanding the Dynamics of a Political Landscape in the Western Maya Lowlands"

    The Proyecto Arqueologico Busilja Chocolja, or PABC, focuses on reconstructing the political landscape and regional settlement patterns of the Late Classic Maya along the Middle Usumacinta River that marks the modern border between Chiapas, Mexico and Peten, Guatemala. Co-directed by Charles Golden of Brandeis University and Andrew Scherer of Brown University, the PABC is made up of a team of researchers, including graduate students from the United States, archaeology students from universities in Chiapas and Yucatan, and local community members of the towns of Emiliano Zapata and Nueva Esperanza, Chiapas. The project seeks to understand the role and degree of integration of smaller Late Classic settlements with larger urban centers such as Piedras Negras, Guatemala and Yaxchilan, Mexico. Glyphic monuments from the region suggest that such smaller settlements were part of a strategic and economic nexus that was at the center of territorial disputes among multiple Late Classic kingdoms. Current research involves archaeological survey and minimal excavations in the area around the site of La Mar, Mexico and parts of Guatemala near Yaxchilan.

    Whit Schroder is a second year graduate student in the anthropology department at the University of Pennsylvania, currently focusing on the Late and Terminal Classic Maya. He completed his bachelor's degree at Brown University in 2009 and has since been involved with archaeological projects throughout the United States and Central America. Most recently, he has joined Richard Leventhal in Tihosuco, Mexico as part of the Caste War Project and Charles Golden and Andrew Scherer in Chiapas on the Proyecto Arqueologico Busilja-Chocolja. He will return to Chiapas and Guatemala this summer to continue researching the region between Piedras Negras and Yaxchilan to develop a dissertation topic, which he will present to his committee by this time next year.

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