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Are You My Mother? Maya–Olmec Relations in the Belize Sub-region of the Eastern Lowlands

Departmental Event

Start Date: Dec 04, 2014 - 04:00pm

Location: UNM Hibben Center rm. 105

Anthropology Colloquium Series Presents

Reception to follow

Ever since the “Cultura Madre” concept was proposed in the 1940’s, there has been an ongoing debate between “Olmequistas” and Mayanists about the origins of lowland Maya civilization. This situation is exemplified by a recent observation that, “Classic Maya society was not an anomalous, mysterious cult invented in the jungles of northern Guatemala 1,800 years ago. Rather, it was the outcome of a long historical evolutionary process stretching back to the mid- second millennium B.C. and to the Gulf lowland Olmec heartland.” Unfortunately, this statement by Hector Neff, like many other previous assumptions on Maya–Olmec relations, have rarely ever been based on a comprehensive comparative analyses of Preclassic artifactual materials and symbols from the Gulf Coast and the Maya lowlands. They also generally focus on singular cultural characteristics and ignore the rich and diverse archaeological data that have been recovered in Belize and the Peten. By comparing Preclassic cultural remains from Belize with coeval data from the Olmec heartland, this paper provides a far more comprehensive picture of lowland Maya-Olmec relationship than previously presented.