Research Explorations - Dr. Brent Woodfill presents "Thinking about Missing Things: Archaeological Investigations in the Maya World"
Research Explorations - Dr. Brent Woodfill presents "Thinking about Missing Things: Archaeological Investigations in the Maya World" Online
Archaeologists rely on physical things to build their models and interpretations of ancient activities and ways of life—potsherds, arrowheads, pyramids, and human skeletal remains. But what about the impermanent and transient parts of our existence? I began my career working in caves in the Maya world—sacred spaces where supplicants and ritual specialists squeezed, climbed, and swum by torchlight in order to leave ritual offerings to deities, the ancestors, and the caves themselves. Since 2010, my work has focused on a major producer of salt in the interior lowlands—a massive city sprawling over 30 square miles that produced thousands of tons a year for several thousand years. In both cases, though, the object of my research—the bodies and beliefs of people long dead and a volatile, water soluble mineral—have long since disappeared. As a result, I have to take several additional steps before I can actually “see” any of these things. The problems, process, and possibilities of these investigations will be the focus of this talk.
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