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The Brothers Taaj: Orders and The Politics of Expertise in the Late Maya Court

Franco Rossi, Boston University, Junior Fellow 2013–2014

I came to Dumbarton Oaks having finished three seasons of thesis field research based at the Sabios Group in the Classic-period Maya site of Xultun, Guatemala. I arrived with a clear conceptual framework for my dissertation—building on what archaeologist Adam T. Smith calls the “Archaeology of Political Associations” as seen through the mural art and residential archaeology a highly influential and political scribal order, with special emphasis on its internal pedagogical practices. I set specific goals for writing this research up in the course of my fellowship. In the fall semester, I drafted some 150 pages of the thesis, and in the spring semester, I shifted my focus from the dissertation to several collaborative articles concerning the Sabios Group. The first was submitted to the journal Antiquity in February and accepted for publication in March (pending minor revisions); the second was submitted to American Anthropology in March; the third was submitted to Ancient Mesoamerica in April; and the fourth was submitted as part of a set of collective papers stemming from a recent conference on early Maya E-Group architecture. I will have a full draft of my dissertation ready by October 2014—something that would not have been possible without the focused research, thought, and writing completed at Dumbarton Oaks.