Shoshaunna Parks and Patricia A. McAnany
This article examines the present relationship between indigenous people and archaeology in Mesoamerica, with an emphasis on the Maya region. It provides a brief analysis of the historical and political conditions that have contributed to the disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples from the ancient past. It also looks at recent interactions among stakeholders in the investigation, interpretation, and management of Mesoamerican archaeological heritage.
Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos
The historiography of archaeology in Guatemala is still in its infancy. Accounts of Maya archaeology are mostly concerned with the development of ideas in North America and Europe, where strong traditions of Maya research developed since the nineteenth century. Few authors delve into the sociopolitical events that have conditioned the work of foreign scholars in the country, their interaction with Guatemalan students, and the intellectual currents that have influenced the latter. Guatemalan archaeology has also been overlooked in general surveys of Latin American archaeology. This article describes selected stages in the history of Guatemalan archaeology, based on previous overviews.
Jaime J. Awe
Located on the southeastern corner of the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize is the second smallest country in Central America. In spite of its size, however, the country has an incredibly rich and diverse cultural heritage that includes the remains of pioneering preceramic cultures, numerous prehistoric cities that reflect the grandeur of Maya civilization, the ruins of several “Visita” churches that represent the failed efforts of sixteenth-century Spanish entradas , and various historic sites of the British colonial period. This article provides a brief history of the management of archaeological resources in Belize, a summary of archaeological investigations during the last two hundred years, and the present direction of archaeological research in the country.
Geoffrey McCafferty, Fabio Esteban Amador, Silvia Salgado González, and Carrie Dennett
The southern frontier of Mesoamerica has fluctuated through time but has generally included portions of the Central American countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Tied into this liminal status, the history of archaeological research and the development of archaeological institutions in these countries have varied, sometimes emphasizing “Mesoamerican-ness” and sometimes highlighting independent development. This article discusses the history of archaeological practice in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. It then presents a brief overview of the culture history of the region with particular emphasis on relations with Mesoamerican cultures.
Deborah L. Nichols and Christopher A. Pool
This article provides an overview of recent trends in Mesoamerican archaeology. It discusses the various paradigms that have shaped the field of Mesoamerican archaeology. It describes the field's contributions to the understanding of human-environmental interactions, settlement-pattern research and cultural-resource management, ancient Mesoamerican economics and politics, society and polity, and beliefs and rituals. This is followed by a discussion of the theoretical pluralism or pragmatism characterizes Mesoamerican archaeology today. It concludes with a few observations on those areas of archaeological theory and practice that are important in the near future.
Nelly M. Robles García
This article discusses archaeology programs in Mexico. The teaching of archaeology in Mexico through the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia is carried out within the National Educational Program of the Ministry of Public Education. That means it is contemplated fundamentally as education provided by the state that therefore is free for citizens. The basic program grants a degree that is equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts. At this level, archaeology is studied for nine semesters. After that, the student must present a thesis to obtain his or her degree. The resulting diploma opens the doors to a formal market in this field. A summary of new trends is provided, which have modified the archaeological arena, as well as the teaching of new archaeologists in Mexico. These include salvage and rescue archaeology, cultural-resources management, and cultural legislation research.
This article attempts to identify the most important theoretical positions in Mesoamerican archaeology, briefly commenting on occasion about some substantive theories. The first real theoretical position would be historical particularism, centered on the cognitive goal of description, and going from the late 1890s to the 1950s, the “foundational period,” followed by neoevolutionism and Marxism with their variants, championing some form of explanation, roughly from the late 1950s and onward, in the “theoretical self-awareness period,” and finally, in a “theoretical diversification” period, with postprocessual archaeologists pursuing hermeneutic Interpretation (from the 1980s onward), and the flourishing of “thematic archaeologies”.
Susan Toby Evans
This article describes in general terms the characteristics of major time periods in Mesoamerica, tracking the regions that directed or dominated events in each period. It covers the Late Archaic period (4000–2000