September 12, 2009 Dr. Timothy Pugh:   “Spanish Things in Maya Worlds: the Archaeology of First Contact”
     Upon first contact with the Spaniards and afterwards, many Maya appropriated European objects.  The Spaniards manipulated indigenous desires for European things in order to achieve political domination.  Hernán Cortés left beads, cloth, religious objects, and military projectiles as he traveled through Cozumel and Yucatan in 1519.  He visited Nojpeten, the capital of the Itza with a large army in 1525 and presented gifts and a wounded horse.  These initial interactions and those over the next 200 years have much to say about the role of material culture in situations of contact.  During the Contact period (A.D. 1525-1697) the Petén Lakes region was dominated by the Itza and their rivals, the Kowoj.  Archaeological research is revealing the complex roles of European objects in the political and religious systems of the Petén Maya.

     Timothy W. Pugh is an associate professor at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  He has conducted archaeological investigations in Petén, Guatemala for fifteen years.  His current research focuses upon Contact period power networks in the Petén Lakes region of Guatemala.  His past work focused upon the sites of Zacpetén and Nixtun-Ch’ich,’ but in 2009, he began a new project at the site of Tayasal. He is now Director of the Tayasal Archaeological Project.

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