Collaborative Archaeological Project of Eastern Yucatán, Mexico (PACOY)

Ba’ax ka wa’alik? Hola!

The spring of 2016 was spent excavating with the Collaborative Archaeological Project of Eastern Yucatán (PACOY: Proyecto Arqueológico Colaborativo del Oriente de Yucatán) in Mexico, under the direction of Field Coordinator Maia Dedrick. The principle investigators of the project are Dr. Patricia A. McAnany (UNC, InHerit) and Dr. Iván Batún (UNO, AGEY).

The excavation site was located in the village of Tahcabo, situated in the centre of the Yucatán Peninsula, widely known for its tourist resorts and Mayan archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza. The Yucatán Peninsula is a karst landscape like that of the Burren, Ireland, where I excavated later that summer (Caherconnell, Co. Clare). However, unlike the Burren, the limestone of the Yucatán Peninsula is not exposed and the region still exhibits tropical jungles and agricultural zones.

This season’s excavation focused on investigating rejolladas, natural solution sinkholes in the karstic limestone that collect rich soils ideal for cultivation. In particular, as part of her dissertation research Maia Dedrick is examining changes in how food was grown in Tahcabo’s rejolladas from the Classic period through Spanish colonisation of Mexico (ca. 600-1800 CE). It is hoped that these investigations will shed more light on how sweeping social changes affected community organisation, agricultural production, and food preparation. To achieve this the excavation will provide samples for analysis of macro- and micro-botanical remains and soil chemistry.

A very important component of the Collaborative Archaeological Project of Eastern Yucatán is community involvement. The excavation sites are located within the municipal boundaries and the residents of Tahcabo are actively encouraged to participate in all aspects of the project. Students from the Universidad de Oriente (UNO) and Universidad Autonoma de Yucatán (UADY) are also active members of the project, an initiative that provides an opportunity for the younger generation, including those who themselves speak Maya, to study local Maya culture, anthropology and archaeology. Wider dissemination will come in the form of educational materials and reports (in Spanish and Yucatec Maya) composed by Maia Dedrick in collaboration with the non-profit group InHerit.

More information on this period of Mexico’s past, the Yucatán Peninsula and the Collaborative Archaeological Project of Eastern Yucatán can be found here:

The University of North Carolina – Institute for the Study of the Americas

Maya civilization – Wikipedia

Maya peoples – Wikipedia

InHerit – Official Website

Photo Credit: Patricia A. McAnany
Photo Credit: Patricia A. McAnany