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The Early Mesoamerican City of Izapa and the Southern Maya Region

Rebecca Mendelsohn, University at Albany, State University of New York, Junior Fellow 2015–2016

My fellowship year enabled me to make significant strides on several writing projects. I completed six chapters of my dissertation, and advanced several publication projects by submitting one article to the Journal of Field Archaeology, preparing another for Ancient Mesoamerica, and contributing to a third for Latin American Antiquity (with Robert Rosenswig). These projects detail the results of my archaeological excavations and artifact analyses associated with an important cultural transition (100 BC–AD 400) at the early urban center of Izapa, located along the southern Pacific coast of Mexico. My write-up of the ceramics was significantly aided by access to difficult-to-obtain ceramic reports held in the Dumbarton Oaks Library. My work was also greatly enhanced by discussions and feedback from this year’s cohort of fellows. The opportunity to discuss my research with Takeshi Inomata was an especially beneficial outcome of this year, as we are both working with similar issues of ceramic chronologies and interaction between our disparate study areas, the Pacific Coast and the Maya lowlands. I also shared common interests in the collapse and reorganization of ancient civilizations with scholars working in regions as distinct as Mesoamerica, the Andes, and Byzantium. These conversations have helped me to understand the ways in which events at Izapa both share common underlying processes with other areas and reveal unique human responses to similar phenomena.