Ceramic Sequence of the Holmul Region

Callaghan Cover 300dpi Michael Callaghan of the University of Central Florida has co-penned the cover story for the January 2017 IMS Explorer. But this month, his new book has been published by the University of Arizona Press.

The Ceramic Sequence of the Holmul Region, Guatemala

Michael G. Callaghan and Nina Neivens de Estrada

A vital handbook for archaeologists interested in Mesoamerican ceramic typology

Sequencing the ceramics in Guatemala’s Holmul region has the potential to answer important questions in Maya archaeology. The Holmul region, located in northeastern Guatemala between the central Peten lowlands to the west and the Belize River Valley to the east, encompasses roughly ten square kilometers and contains at least seven major archaeological sites, including two large ceremonial and administrative centers, Holmul and Cival. The Ceramic Sequence of the Holmul Region, Guatemala illustrates the archaeological ceramics of these prehistoric Maya sites in a study that provides a theoretical starting point for answering questions related to midand high-level issues of archaeological method and theory in the Maya area and larger Mesoamerica. The researchers’ ceramic sequence, which uses the method of type: variety-mode classification, spans approximately 1,600 years and encompasses nine ceramic complexes and one sub-complex. The highly illustrated book is formatted as a catalog of the types of ceramics in a chronological framework.


The authors undertook this study with three objectives: to create a temporal-spatial framework for archaeological sites in the politically important Holmul region, to relate this framework to other Maya sites, and to use type: variety-mode data to address specific questions of ancient Maya social practice and process during each ceramic complex.


Specific questions addressed in this volume include, the adoption of pottery as early as 800 BC at the sites of Holmul and Cival during the Middle Preclassic period, the creation of the first orange polychrome pottery, the ideological and political influence from sites in Mexico during the Early Classic period, and the demographic and political collapse of lowland Maya polities between AD 800 and AD 830.

Michael G. Callaghan is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Central Florida. He is co-director of the Holtún Archaeological Project, located in the department of Peten, Guatemala.

Nina Neivens de Estrada is a doctoral student at Tulane University. She specializes in ceramic analysis and excavation of monumental architecture. Her research focuses on the typological and modal analysis of early lowland Maya pottery in the central Peten area.

“I suspect, like most ceramic volumes, this will become ‘the bible’ for understanding and discussion of the ceramics of the Holmul region for many years, if not decades.” — George Bey, co-editor of Pottery Economics in Mesoamerica

“This is a superb monograph and important addition to our corpus of Maya ceramics, which too often do not get reported.” — Laura Kosakowsky, author of Preclassic Maya Pottery at Cuello, Belize

Anthropological Papers
November 2016, 256 pp, 8.5 x 11, 13 tables, 90 halftones
ISBN 978-0-8165-3194-3 $19.95 soft-back

Electronic edition available

IMS MEMBERS DISCOUNT: Login to the Member side of the website and look under Publications to find information on the discount.

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thumb APMaudslay_001Pioneers in Maya Archaeology

Biographical sketches of men and women who did much of the early defining
work in Maya studies.

Copyright 2012 Ceramic Sequence of the Holmul Region. The Institute of Maya Studies is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Your charitable contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
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