Comparison of a Community- Scale Political Adaptive Cycle and a High-Resolution Paleoclimate Record at Uxbenka

Departmental News

Posted:  Apr 29, 2015 - 12:00pm

Abstract: Human-environment relationships are complex, multi-dimensional and historically contingent; thus, understanding their dynamics necessitate textured analyses on several scales. The conceptual framework of panarchy and its associated resilience theory posit that periods of stability and transformation a re inevitable in what has been termed an adaptive cycle. This project develops a community-level political adaptive cycle for Uxbenká, an ancient agrarian polity in the Maya hinterlands, and explores its linkages with the dominant political ideology of divine kingship and climate stress. Employing original, high-resolution archaeological and paleoclimatological data and analyses, I will assess: 1) when Uxbenká residents adopted and ultimately rejected the political ideology and material expressions of divin e kingship, 2) cycles of growth, maintenance, decline and renewal in the built environment history of the civic - ceremonial precinct as proxies for the stability or instability of political power and authority, 3) the duration of a potential dynastic lineage through direct dating of human remains, and 4) statistically significant drying events and both long-term and sub-annual periods of climate variability as recorded in local speleothem paleoclimate records. The results of my project will provide insights on conditions and linkages that confer or erode the resilience of political actors embedded in a coupled socionatural landscape, as well as produce nuanced information on the role of political ideology as a source of change that transforms coupled socionatural landscapes.