PART III: ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH AT SUBSIDIARY CENTERS

Chapter 7:
A Tale of Two Centers: A Perspective on Secondary State Formation at Late Classic Motul de San José from Trinidad de Nosotros
By Matthew D. Moriarty
Abstract:  The last decades of the 7th century AD witnessed a dramatic upheaval in the structure and organization of lowland Maya politics.  Tikal returned to prominence in the political arena, enduring inter-dynastic alliances were reconfigured, and new centers rose to prominence.  Recent investigations by the MSJ Project have revealed that Motul’s ascendancy as a major center likely occurred during this interval and that its emergence as a political power may have resulted, in part, from the major forces reshaping and restructuring other areas of the Maya lowlands.  A synthesis of previous research also suggests that Late Classic developments at Motul may have had a major impact on the established political geography of the Lake Petén Itzá basin.  This chapter examines Late Classic developments at Motul de San José from the perspective of Trinidad de Nosotros.  Trinidad’s long history of development as part of the larger Lake Petén Itzá interaction zone as well as its placement, intermediate between Motul and this zone, make the site an ideal starting point for considering the development of the Late Classic Motul polity.  Comparisons between Trinidad and Motul reveal significant differences in site layout and organization and also suggest some of the ways in which Motul’s early rulers may have co-opted local traditions as part of comprehensive political strategies.

Chapter 8:
Wealth, Status, and Stucco: Micromorphology Studies at La Trinidad, a Secondary Center in the Motul de San Jose Periphery
By Ellen Spensley
Abstract: In 2003, plaster samples from floors, walls, and benches were collected from the site of Trinidad de Nosotros, located southeast of Motul de San Jose on the northern shore of Lake Peten-Itza. Microscopic study of these structurally intact plaster samples has revealed that patterns of floor construction and plaster ingredients varied according to location around the site. In particular, the floors of buildings from groups classified as Plaza Plan 2 were carefully created in a layered pattern that is likely an expression of the high status of the residents. A comparison with plaster samples taken from nearby Tikal has revealed that plasters used within elite residences and some ritual features at Trinidad show similarities in construction and decorative finishing techniques. Compositionally, the plasters from Trinidad that most closely match those used at Tikal are found along the lakeshore, perhaps indicating that this sector of the site also had a special relationship with the larger city. In addition to plasters, structurally intact midden samples were collected from deposits associated with residences at Trinidad. Microscopic analysis of these samples has provided detailed information about activity areas. The results of this analysis demonstrate that very subtle expressions of wealth, status, and activities may be deduced through the microscopic study of intact sediments and anthropogenic materials.

Chapter 9:
Cobbling Together the Lithic Sequence at Trinidad de Nosotros and Sites in the Motul de San Jose Region, Petén, Guatemala
By James Crorey Lawton
Abstract: Excavations at the Lake Petén Itzá port site of Trinidad de Nosotros have included explorations into plaza architecture, revealing a long-term occupation of the site, extending from the Middle Preclassic through the Postclassic.  Excavations in the core focused on testing the occupational sequence below the vaulted architecture of an elite residence dating to the Late Classic period.  The second tested area, located adjacent to a source of knappable cryptocrystalline material, lacked vaulted architecture, and showed evidence of lithic production throughout its occupation.  Through analysis of the lithic material from these and other loci, I will present the chipped stone lithic sequence at Trinidad, incorporating both producer and consumer assemblages from the same site.  The lithic assemblages from Trinidad will then be compared to similar assemblages from other sites in the region, including material from the Late Classic political center of Motul de San José and subordinate sites.

Chapter 10:
Akte: Small Secondary Center to the Northeast of Motul de San Jose
By Suzanna Yorgey
Abstract: Excavations and mapping of the small site of Akte, located 7.2 km northwest of Motul de San José, near the confluence of the Rio Akte and the Rio K’ante’t’u’ul, documented an extensive occupational history, seven stela monuments, and several features suggesting that the site played a complex role in regional sociopolitical interactions. This chapter summarizes the results of the ceramic analysis to contextualize the nature of the role of minor sites in the Motul de San José polity and on the larger Central Peten geopolitical scene.

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