IMS Associates

Archaeology Students

Jerry Ek



BA, Western Washington University
MA, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Research Interests

Topical: regional settlement patterning, economics and exchange, contemporary archaeological theory, the collapse of complex economic and political systems, ritual and ancestor veneration; Maya epigraphy and political history; Highland-Lowland Mesoamerican interaction
Regional: Mesoamerica; Maya Lowlands; Southern Gulf Coast; Champoton; secondary interest in Andean cultures

Current Research

The focus of my dissertation research is the Classic to Postclassic transition in the Gulf Coast region of Champoton, Campeche. The goal of this study is the critical evaluation of untested models concerning the role of the frontier groups of the Gulf Coast in broader Mesoamerican historical dynamics. Investigations will focus on changing patterns of political and economic organization in ancient Champoton, one of several important polities located on the northwestern margin of the Maya area. The peoples of this area have played a central role in many syntheses of Mesoamerican historical developments, particularly in events surrounding the Classic period collapse. Despite the central role of Gulf Coast groups in collapse models, no systematic archaeological research has been undertaken to evaluate these theories.

The perspective of this research differs from previous approaches to the problem of the Classic Maya collapse, which have traditionally focused on the terminal occupations of inland Classic-period centers. Instead of continuing to focus on the abandonment of large inland polities at the end of the Classic period, this project will examine regional-scale diachronic political and economic change. Champoton represents an ideal regional context for the investigation of diachronic change from Classic to Postclassic due to the occupational continuity and fluorescence documented in several specific centers during this period. Research methods will consist of a combination of settlement mapping and test excavations. While the focus of this dissertation research is regional in scope, this project will examine events that are a part of broader pan-Mesoamerican transformations. The role of Gulf Coast groups in these processes is of central importance in disciplinary understanding of this pivotal period in Mesoamerican history.