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Victor Castillo

Conquest as Revival in the Sixteenth-Century Maya Highlands: Excavations at Chiantla Viejo, Guatemala

Victor Castillo

University of Arizona, Pre-Columbian Studies Junior Fellow

Castillo’s research explores how religious change in small communities offered a framework for a negotiation between ritual continuity and innovation during the Spanish conquest of the Maya highlands in the sixteenth century. Through a combination of archival research on early colonial Maya and excavations at Chiantla Viejo, in western Guatemala, he proposes that the mediation between pre-Hispanic forms of ritual and external influences unfolded immediately after the Spanish conquest during a short but intense religious movement that revived ancient ritual public architecture. Castillo suggests that it was through such episodes of revivalism that the introduction of Christianity was negotiated by Spanish missionaries and Maya elites as a return to an assumed authentic ancestral religion.

Victor Castillo is a doctoral candidate in archaeology at the University of Arizona. He holds a licenciatura in archaeology from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and an MA in anthropology from the University of Arizona. Since 2017, Castillo has been the director of the Chiantla Viejo Archaeological Project, an incipient effort to open new venues for archaeological research in an understudied region in the Maya area. He codirected the Región de Chaculá Archaeological Project in 2013 and the Ceibal-Petexbatun Archaeological Project in 2012, both in Guatemala. He has also conducted historical research on the colonial Maya of western Guatemala, exploring the role of modern pilgrimage centers and archaeological sites in the formation of ethnic identities and local representations of the past.