Warfare and the Fall of a Fortified Center: Archaeological Investigations at Aguateca

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This volume presents for the first time the detailed data and dramatic findings of Inomata's investigations of this Classic period second capital of the ancient Maya Petexbatun kingdom. As widely discussed in journals and the media, the autonomous Aguateca subproject of the Vanderbilt Petexbatun research recovered remarkable new evidence on the violent end of a Maya center. This monograph presents descriptions and interpretations of the excavations and surveys, site maps, and recovered ceramics and artifacts, as well as a wide range of applied analyses of this data. The sprawling defensive fortifications of this center, its already formidable natural location, and its final destruction and burning represent one of the most remarkable sets of evidence of the collapse of a Classic Maya kingdom. Inomata discusses the implications of his findings for theories of the end of Classic Maya civilization. This work also provides unique insights into the details of Classic Maya households, elite life, and social and economic roles. Such insights are possible because the epicenter of Aguateca was suddenly and rapidly abandoned and burned at the end of its occupation shortly after A.D. 800. Inomata applied the methods of meticulous horizontal excavation and point plotting of many artifacts to document this Pompeii-like situation, remarkable in its potential for understanding Maya life. The results of these investigations, reported both here and in an upcoming VIMA volume, have yielded a new understanding of variability in ancient Maya household size, structure function, and economic and social roles, challenging standing interpretations of Classic Maya population dynamics, domestic configurations, economic specialization, and social structure. Together with the extensive Aguateca site survey and excavations, the investigations presented in this volume provide a new, close view of the final years, and even the last moments, of a Classic Maya kingdom.