Brent Woodfill, “The Fight for Maya Sacred Places in the Past and Present”

About the lecture:

For the ancient and modern Maya, the landscape is ruled by powerful entities in the form of geographic features such as caves, mountains, springs, and abandoned cities—spirits who must be entreated for permission to plant, harvest, build, or travel through their territories. Some of the most sacred Maya places are in Central Guatemala, where for millennia they have served as points of domination and resistance over the region’s wealth of resources (fertile soil, petroleum, and the only noncoastal salt in the Maya lowlands). In this talk, Woodfill delves into archaeology, epigraphy, ethnohistory, and ethnography to explore the battle for access to and control of the most important places in the region.  From the rise of the first Maya states through the spread of contemporary transnational corporations, these places have served and continue to serve as battlefields between foreign invaders and local resistance movements.

About the speaker:

Dr. Brent Woodfill, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Winthrop University, specializes in community archaeology, Maya ritual and economics, ethics, and ontology. Since 2009, he has been working at the site of Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, a major city occupied for over 2,000 years that surrounds the only noncoastal salt source in the Maya lowlands. He has published over thirty articles and book chapters as well as two books, War in the Land of True Peace: The Fight for Maya Sacred Places (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019) and Ritual and Trade in the Pasión-Verapaz Region, Guatemala (Vanderbilt University Press, 2010).