Household Religiosity: Discerning Pluralism or Integration in the Ancient Maya City of Yaxha, Guatemala
While at Dumbarton Oaks, my work primarily focused on my dissertation project: analyzing religious ideology and household ritual practices at the ancient Maya capital of Yaxha, in northeastern Guatemala. Toward the end of the Classic period (ca. 800–950), Yaxha was a thriving city with an extensive population living in and around the monumental civic and ceremonial center, by then already almost two thousand years old. As was the case for Late Classic Maya society in general, the inhabitants of Yaxha participated in a highly stratified society, marked by pronounced social, economic, and political disparities. The objective of my research is to assess the similarities and differences between the religious practices and beliefs of royals and nobles on the one hand (state religion) and commoners on the other (folk religion), in an attempt to better understand the ideological integration of this ancient society during the last century prior to the city’s abandonment at the end of the Classic period. The evidence suggests distinctive ritual traditions for each of the defined social groups but with some shared elements demonstrating a certain level of integration at the polity level, despite the relative independence of commoner ritual practices. During my fellowship, I produced a draft of my dissertation, submitted for publication an article on settlement patterns from two other related archaeological sites in northwestern Guatemala, and collaborated on a paper on the cultural heritage of the island of Flores, located in Lake Petén Itzá, Guatemala.