Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Award: The Effect of War On The Transformation of Social Hierarchies

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project will investigate the relationship between warfare and social order at Tzunun, Chiapas, Mexico. To understand the relationship between warfare (armed combat between and among social groups) and social order (relationships of cooperation, organization and control between and among people) Hernandez will examine how social order at Tzunun was manifest in the design of the site’s physical landscape, which is a landscape whose overall settlement pattern was also modified through fortification. While fortifications can be studied to assess the presence of warfare in a society, Hernandez will conduct an analysis of defensive features in conjunction with the domestic mounds of a community to examine how warfare and the threat of war could have affected how people organized their lives and communities. Tzunun is an ideal place to conduct the research because surface survey research indicates that a community of 65 domestic mounds was built with multiple fortifications on a lacustrine peninsula with rugged terrain. Based on the preliminary findings of Hernandez’s survey research at Tzunun, his excavations and analysis will investigate two central problems: how warfare may have affected (1) settlement patterns and (2) socioeconomic organization. It is expected that height signified status for the Maya of Tzunun and this signification was tied to the ability to live in more defendable locations. These insights would contribute an empirical case for how warfare factored into the order of Maya society.
Effective start/end date11/15/1510/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (BCS‐1546972)


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