Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2003:
Francisco Estrada-Belli

Archaeological Investigations at Holmul, Petén, Guatemala
Preliminary Results of the Third Season, 2002
Vea este informe en Español.

Figure 52. Cival Stela 2. Drawing by Nikolai Grube. Maximum height 177 cm high; width 107 cm.

With contributions by Britta Watters, John Tomasic (Vanderbilt U.) Katie South (S. Illinois U.), Chris Hewitson (English Heritage), Marc Wolf (T.A.M.S.), Kristen Gardella (U. Penn.), Justin Ebersole, James Doyle, David Bell, Andie Gehlhausen (Vanderbilt U.), Kristen Klein (Florida State U.), Collin Watters (Western Illinois, U.), Claudio Lozano Guerra-Librero (Anphorae), Jena DeJuilio, Shoshuanna Parks (Boston U.), Raul Archila, Luis Salazar, Mynor Silvestre, Mario Penados, Angel Chavez, Enrique Monterroso (USAC, CUDEP).

Research Year:  2002
Culture:  Maya
Chronology:  Late Pre-Classic to Classic
Location:  Petén, Guatemala
Sites:  Holmul, Cival, Hahakab and La Sufricaya

Table of Contents

Synopsis of the 2002 season results
Discovery of Hahakab
Other Explorations in the Holmul area
Mapping at Holmul
Excavations within Holmul site center
Group 13
Group III, Court A
Group III, Court B
South Group 1
Salvage excavations at K’o
Investigations at La Sufricaya
Summary of excavations in Str. 1
Imaging of the La Sufricaya Murals 1-3
Conservation of Murals
Summary of excavations in Stelae 4, 5, 6, 8
Residential buildings at La Sufricaya
Investigations at Cival
Conclusions and future research directions
List of Figures
Sources Cited
Appendix A. Ceramics
Appendix B. Drawings
Appendix C. Epigraphy


The present report summarizes the results of the 2002 field season of the Holmul Archaeological Project at Holmul, Petén and at the sites of Cival, Hahakab and La Sufricaya in its vicinity (Figure 1). This field season was made possible thanks to funding from the National Geographic Society, Vanderbilt University, the Ahau Foundation, FAMSI, Interco, as well as permits extended by IDAEH of Guatemala. The HAP’02 team included 20 participants from U.S. and Guatemalan academic institutions, 40 workmen and three cooks, and the help of several individuals outside the field camp. The field work was carried out between May 10th and June 30th 2002, and was followed by an extended period of data processing during the fall of 2002.

The aim of the Holmul Archaeological Project is to develop and test new interpretive models on the nature and dynamic development of ancient Maya political, economic and ideological institutions by analyzing the material correlates of such institutions in the context of a medium-sized Maya city during the crucial transition from the Late Preclassic to the Classic Periods.

The city of Holmul is in a key location between Tikal, Naranjo, Xultún and other major Maya cities. The site was first investigated in 1911 by Raymond E. Merwin of the Peabody Museum of Harvard University and it has an uninterrupted sequence of development from Preclassic to Terminal Classic times, with substantial ceremonial, residential, burial and epigraphic remains (Merwin and Vaillant 1932). We believe that new survey and excavation in this area will elucidate early developments of Maya kingship, administrative networks and economic specialization. Specific research goals focus on identifying architectural, burial and residential correlates of crucial historical, social and economic processes that led to the formation of dynastic lines from ritual leadership in the southern Maya Lowlands during the transition from the Late Preclassic to the Early Classic period (ca. A.D. 100-400). We are also interested in how the long-term trajectory of architectural growth and decline of this Maya city and its dependencies reflect historical and socio-economic processes on the regional scale. At the same time, we seek to demonstrate how local land use and trade routes may have changed over time with changes in geopolitical alliances in the greater Petén region.

Moreover, Holmul is a long-lived medium-sized city and it can help us understand the changes in Maya society during the Terminal Classic period in the Southern Lowlands. These research topics are addressed through several stages of multi-disciplinary and long-term research including several sub-projects involving specialists, graduate and undergraduate students from Guatemala and the U.S.

Finally, aside from archaeological research, it is the mission of this project to work towards the conservation of Holmul’s unique architecture, sculpture and painted art and the development of the site as a cultural resource for the local community.

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Archaeological Investigations at Holmul, Petén, Guatemala  (5.20 MB)

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Submitted 03/20/2003 by:

Vanderbilt University
Department of Anthropology

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