BVAR Research in the News
Maya tomb uncovered holding body, treasure and tales of 'snake dynasty'
The Guardian (7 August 2016)
Archaeologists have uncovered what may be the largest royal tomb found in more than a century of work on Maya ruins in Belize, along with a puzzling set of hieroglyphic panels that provide clues to a “snake dynasty” that conquered many of its neighbors some 1,300 years ago.
The tomb was unearthed at the ruins of Xunantunich, a city on the Mopan river in western Belize that served as a ceremonial center in the final centuries of Maya dominance around 600 to 800AD. Archaeologists found the chamber 16ft to 26ft below ground, where it had been hidden under more than a millennium of dirt and debris.
Maya Decipherment / Baylor University (7 March 2019)
Archaeological excavations at the site of Baking Pot in 2015-2016 discovered sherds from a painted hieroglyphic vase that detailed a series of martial events, including the sacking and burning of Yaxha in Guatemala. The excavations were led by the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance project, co-directed by Jaime J. Awe (Northern Arizona University) and Julie Hoggarth (Baylor University). Hoggarth supervised research at Baking Pot, with several of the graduate students and supervisors identifying the first sherds as they came out of the ground. After the discovery, Hoggarth emailed a photo of the first sherds to BVAR epigrapher, Christophe Helmke (University of Copenhagen) who suggested that the team expand their excavations to recover more of the vase. In the end, researchers recovered around 70% of the vessel and reconstructed it. Helmke deciphered the text and led the publication of a new published volume detailing the vase, "A Reading of the Komkom Vase from Baking Pot, Belize" (Helmke, Hoggarth, and Awe, 2018), published by Precolumbia Mesoweb Press.
Maize-centric diet may have contributed to ancient Maya collapse (July 3 2019)
The question of how to best adapt to extreme climate is a critical issue facing modern societies worldwide. In "The Role of Diet in Resilience and Vulnerability to Climate Change among Early Agricultural Communities in the Maya Lowlands," published in Current Anthropology, authors Claire Ebert, Julie Hoggarth, Jaime Awe, Brendan Culleton, and Douglas Kennett examine the role of diet in the ability of the ancient Maya to withstand periods of severe climatic stress. The authors found that an increase in the elite Maya's preference for a maize-based diet may have made the population more vulnerable to drought, contributing to its societal collapse.