Investigations at Mayapan by the Carnegie Institution

Scientific work was initiated at Mayapan by the Carnegie Institution of Washington. R. T. Patton initially surveyed the city wall in 1938, Lawrence Roys studied the architecture in some detail, Brainerd tested the site for pottery samples, and E. Wyllys Andrews IV performed a major (unpublished) first investigation. Major field seasons occurred in the early 1950’s (mostly between 1949-1954) under the direction of Harry E.D. Pollock; important publications include a monograph, Mayapan, Yucatan, Mexico (by Pollock, Ralph Roys, Tatiana Proskouriakoff, and A. Ledyard Smith) and a series of annual “Current Reports” (now compiled by John Weeks and re-published in 2009). The Carnegie team studied most of the city’s major monumental buildings and embarked on a mission of settlement mapping and investigation of dwellings; 101 structures were investigated. This group of accomplished archaeologists included Tatiana Proskouriakoff, A.L. Smith, Karl Ruppert, William Bullard, Edwin Shook, Robert Smith, Gustav Stromsvik, and their graduate students. Mayapan remains one of the best mapped sites; Morris Jones’ map recorded a majority of structures of all sizes within the city’s great circumferential wall. The wall, 9.1km in circumference, encompasses a space of 4.2 square kilometers. The mapping and household excavations were addressed innovative research questions for the 1950’s as they fostered a more complete understanding of Maya society. Studies of elite palaces and ceremonial buildings only allow for limited top-down view of an ancient civilization. When supplemented by studies of ancient houses, the economic, social, and religious mechanisms that comprised an urban polity like Mayapan are more thoroughly revealed. A landmark study of Mayapan pottery was published in 1971 by Robert Smith.