Collaborative Research: Uci-Cansahcab Regional Integration Project

Grants and Contracts Details


The Uci-Cansahcab Regional Integration Project explores the ways in which the unification of several archaeological sites in the Northern Maya lowlands transformed political, economic, social, and ritual life at the beginning of the Classic period (250-550 AD). Integration is indicated by the rise of a regional capital (Izamal), shared architectural styles, and the construction of an 18km long stone causeway that connected Uci with Cansahcab as well as other sites in between. This proposal focuses on large and small sites along the path of the causeway as well as sites not connected by the causeway. We seek to gauge both the impact of regional integration on the people of these hinterland sites as well as the ways in which these people recursively shaped the process of integration. By investigating sites both on and off the causeway, this research assesses the degree to which regional integration penetrated the hinterlands, thus providing a sense of the scale and intensity of the historical transformation. Investigating both large and small sites highlights the degree to which more powerful and less powerful local interest groups may have negotiated different terms of interaction, introducing unevenness and heterogeneity in the process of integration. This proposal builds upon field seasons in 2008, 2009, and 2010 which demonstrated Uci's status as the local center and discovered and documented a variety of sites both close to and distant from the causeway. We seek funding to return to nine of these hinterland sites for three seasons of test pitting, broad architectural excavation (at five sites), and a variety of laboratory analyses, including (but not limited to) radiocarbon dating, soil chemistry, hydrology, petrographic and compositional analysis of ceramics, modal and type-variety analysis of ceramics, and lithic analysis. Later projects will return to Uci for research informed by the results of the work outlined in the current proposal. Intellectual Merit: An appreciation of the relational nature of power has prompted archaeologists to recognize that people do not merely react to policies emanating from central authorities. The dynamic histories and strategic maneuverings of local communities help shape those policies and the terms of integration (BrumfieI1992; Pauketat 2000). A fundamental area of archaeological inquiry has been to study the impact of regional integration on local communities (e.g. Iannone and Connell 2003; Schwartz and Falconer 1994). This approach, sometimes referred to as "bottom up", has been fruitful at multiple levels of political complexity and the current research will add to this domain. However, following the notion that all members of suciety, regardless of their position in the fieid of powGr relations, play active rolls in the production of history (Giddens 1979; Ortner 1984; Willis 1977), we must also recognize that "impact" goes both ways. In other words, a "bottom-up" approach to historical transformations must attend not only to how hinterland communities were impacted by centralized authorities, but 1) how the strategies of non-elites condition and circumscribe the exercise of centralized power; and, 2) how the extensive social diversity of actors grouped together in the unwieldy category of "non-elite" results in divisions and movements that are themselves a source of transformation (Lohse and Valdez 2004; Robin 2004; Chase 1992). Such a perspective requires multiple scales of analysis including the distribution of sites on the landscape, asymmetries between and within communities, and daily life within domestic contexts. Assessing changes in household economy, ritual practice, and social organization permits an analysis that articulates institutions and individuals (Gardner 2004). Understanding the ways in which the strategies of central authorities and of local actors mutually constitute one another contributes to an understanding of historical transformation that includes structuration and densely textured political ecologies.
Effective start/end date6/1/115/31/15


  • National Science Foundation: $113,539.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.