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A Summary of Excavation and Research at Tikal, Guatemala: 1956-61

William R. Coe
American Antiquity
Vol. 27, No. 4 (Apr., 1962), pp. 479-507
DOI: 10.2307/277674
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/277674
Page Count: 29
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A Summary of Excavation and Research at Tikal, Guatemala: 1956-61
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Abstract

A long-term program of intensive excavation and study at the major lowland Maya center of Tikal is described in terms of procedure and results achieved to date. Work has centered on the principal ceremonial area of the site as well as on potential domestic areas. Considerable evidence of Postclassic activity has been encountered throughout a substantial portion of the site in the forms of disturbance of monuments positioned during the Classic, of "abnormal" re-use of monuments, both whole and fragmentary, of excavation for cached offerings and tombs, and of minor constructions for ceremonial purposes that were made probably of "robbed" masonry. The evidence is cited for Tikal having been a sort of pilgrimage center in probably still later times. A theme of "monument obsolescence" throughout much of Classic times is developed to account for the plentiful evidence of shattered, abandoned monuments of those times. Significant new monuments are discussed as to the contributions of their hieroglyphic texts while monuments are dealt with in general as to their changes in time, associations, and positional standards. Important patterns in burial and cache contents are handled as outstanding elements of Classic ceremonialism. The evidence of strong contact with Teotihuacan in late Early Classic times is discussed and in part illustrated. The scope and objectives of the excavations among ceremonial remains are contrasted with those carried out in contexts believed to be domestic. The difficulty of demonstrating residence is emphasized along with the problem of how to deal realistically with "settlement pattern" at a massive, culturally complex site like Tikal. Various other practical questions are cited which relate to the ambiguity of extant terms and concepts as they apply to the Maya area and to Tikal specifically.

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