Staging Maya Warfare: The Landscape of the AD 378 Entrada and Its Aftermath

Oct 30, 2020 3:00 PM

Free and Open to the Public

The 2020-2021 Mesoamerica Center Colloquium Series presents its inaugural lecture with Thomas G. Garrison. 

In the late 4th century AD, two ancient Mesoamerican civilizations clashed in dramatic fashion. It has been two decades since David Stuart first historicized Teotihuacan’s invasion of Tikal by deciphering texts associated with an increase in Central Mexican imagery, architectural forms, and material culture in the Maya Lowlands. The acquisition of canopy-penetrating lidar data over the Buenavista Valley of northern Guatemala now reveals the setting of the so-called Entrada of AD 378, including evidence of fortresses, watchtowers, and other militarily strategic alterations to the Maya landscape that date to the time of the invasion and its aftermath. Recent epigraphic interpretations add new characters to this drama and also suggest some of the tactics that were used to realize the strategic defense of the valley. This integration of remote sensing, archaeology, and epigraphy presents a more nuanced picture of an ancient Mesoamerican conflict, highlighting the value of interdisciplinary studies of the past. 


Thomas G. Garrison is Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2012, he has directed the Proyecto Arqueológico El Zotz in northern Guatemala. An expert in the application of digital technologies to the study of the past, he serves as an archaeological consultant to the Pacunam Lidar Initiative, the largest archaeological lidar program in the world. He is co-editor (with Stephen Houston) of An Inconstant Landscape: The Maya Kingdom of El Zotz, Guatemala (University Press of Colorado, 2018) and is currently the lead editor of the Oxford Handbook of the Maya. 

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