Back to top

Mesoamerica Center presents "Fire Ceremony, History, and Memory: Situating Waka's Central Civic Ceremonial Complex" by Dr. Olivia Navarro-Farr

image of a cave with light filtering in from the top left

Recent investigations at Waka’s primary civic-ceremonial structure have resulted in numerous discoveries outlining a rich narrative of place-making. Architecture, monumental sculpture, mortuary assemblages, public spectacle, and cumulative offerings collectively reinforce deep and multigenerational social memories. Our reconstructions of Waka’s epigraphic record underscore how their ruling Kaanul queens in particular were integral generative forces for these narratives. The archaeology has, in many ways, deeply reinforced our current epigraphic understandings while ​ ​ simultaneously prompting further questions. This discussion focuses on the wide-ranging evidence from Waka’s dominant public building thus far with the goal of synthesizing and contextualizing the significance of these narratives both at Waka’ and more broadly across the region.  


Olivia Navarro-Farr received her Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University and has conducted archaeological investigations in Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. Dr. Navarro-Farr is the co-director for the Proyecto Arqueológico Waka’ (PAW), where she has led excavations in the site’s primary civic-ceremonial structure since 2003. Her interests include the archaeology of ritual, monumental architecture, and site abandonment processes. In 2012, Dr. Navarro-Farr and her colleagues discovered the tomb of Lady K'abel, one of the most famous queens of El Perú-Waka'. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio.