Living Amidst Ruins: Investigating An Ancient Maya Post-Collapse Community In Ake, Yucatan, Mexico

Project: Research project

Project Details


This archaeological project will seek to answer the question: What are some of the social conditions that foster the regeneration of human settlements after an episode of societal collapse? Societal collapse is a process that brings political entities to an end, prompting economic instability, political fragmentation, and changes in a society’s social structure. My project will examine three social factors that may have been crucial to the founding of an ancient Maya settlement within the abandoned city of Ake in the wake of the Classic Maya collapse. These social factors are engagement with ruined buildings, participation in exchange networks, and limited wealth inequality. Ake is in the northwest of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. After being densely occupied for a millennium, Ake was abandoned by 1000 CE during the period of the Classic Maya collapse. Between 1200 and 1550 CE, a community reclaimed the ruined buildings of this ancient city. Archaeological data collected through excavations in house mounds and shrines will allow me to assess how the people that reclaimed Ake engaged with the ruins of the abandoned city, if these individuals participated in exchange networks, and the degree of wealth inequality in this community. The results of this project will further our understanding of the strategies that humans have implemented throughout history to endure the changes brought about by an episode of collapse
Effective start/end date3/21/183/20/19


  • National Geographic Society (EC-228R-18)

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