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Juan Carlos Melendez

“Understanding the Pre-Columbian Production of Greenstone Ornaments in the Maya Area and Beyond through a Microarchaeological Lens”

Juan Carlos Melendez.

Pre-Columbian Studies Fellow

Melendez’s research seeks to elucidate the raw materials of the tools and how these were used by ancient master craftsmen to manufacture stone ornaments in Pre-Columbian times in the Maya area and beyond. Microarchaeological observations of the modified sections of Maya greenstone tesserae that form portable mosaic masks, when compared to traces obtained through experimental archaeological processes, have revealed that the remnants (i.e., micro-traces) of manufacture recorded on these artifacts display the hallmark of ancient lapidary artisans of the Central Maya Lowlands between the fourth and eighth centuries CE. Melendez’s current research focuses on identifying other lapidary trends in the Maya area through the study of stone ornaments found at archaeological sites located in the Maya Highlands and the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.

Juan Carlos Melendez is an archaeologist who graduated from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. He was the director of the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Guatemala and holds a PhD in anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis. Between 2019 and 2021 he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac. In addition to directing and collaborating with several archaeological projects in Guatemala, he also curated national and international exhibits, such as Maya: De l’Aube au Crepuscule, presented at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, France.