USM hosts Maya Week presentations


Last week, the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at The University of Southern Mississippi hosted Maya Week on its Hattiesburg campus.

Four research presentations from numerous sites in Belize and Guatemala encompassed a free and open lecture series that took place over the course of the week.

The series featured recently returned Ph.D recipients or doctoral candidates discussing their summer fieldwork findings.

The first presenter, Amanda Harvey of the University of Nevada, Reno, received her master’s degree from USM in 2011.

Harvey presented “Three Decades of Research at Tipu, Belize (1538-1613)” an analysis of the skeletal remains recovered from the colonial Mayan site in Belize. The 16th- and 17th-century artifacts, one of the largest and best-preserved Mayan collections, are currently curated at USM.

Other speakers included Maxime Lamoureux St-Hilaire and Mary Kate Kelly of Tulane University, who presented “Glyphs at Court: New Epigraphic Discoveries at the Site of Corona, Guatemala,” Carolyn Freiwald of the University of Mississippi, who presented “Migration, Culture Change, and the Arrival of the Spanish in the Last Independent Maya Kingdom” and Julie Hoggarth of Baylor University, who presented “Climate, Chronology and Cultural Change in the Maya Lowlands.”

“Really, for me, the ultimate drive behind my research is to try to think of ways that people can respond—whether that is successfully or maybe not so successfully,” Hoggarth said.

Hoggarth is an assistant professor in anthropology at Baylor University and serves as assistant director of the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project, an investigative group that regularly examines large prehistoric Mayan sites like Cahal Pech, Baking Pot and Lower Dover in the upper Belize River Valley.

Other topics discussed during the week included an analysis of hieroglyphics in Guatemala, native adaptations to Spanish contact, an investigation of migration and modern dating techniques using bone chemistry and a discussion of the ways in which climate change affected population in the Mayan Lowlands.

“These are young scholars, and this is cutting-edge research that applies to a variety of disciplines: biology, history, geography and chemistry, just to name a few,” said Marie Danforth, a professor of anthropology, in a Southern Miss Now press release.

USM senior and anthropology major Lauren Ivy found the wevent interesting.

“I think (Maya Week) is great,” she said. “It really spreads the information out to people who don’t know much about it. I didn’t know a lot of this stuff.”