Reflections on the Past
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"Imagine there is only shrubbery on the twin islands, and they are covered instead with stone platforms, mud and thatch houses, small farming terraces, and several dozen Maya people. You’re in north central Guatemala, it’s 1565 AD, and you are hoping that the Spanish conquistadors won’t find your village. You moved deep into the jungle to avoid the soldiers, joining hundreds of other Maya from as far away as the Gulf Coast of Mexico, and found a small lake with fifteen islands—perfect for defending your family. My research looks at the Maya who moved to the jungle that spans northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico, starting from around 1000 AD and ending in the nineteenth century. Even before the Spanish came to the Americas, the Maya had to find easily defensible places to live, as widespread political collapse led to centuries of instability and war. No one was ever truly isolated, and I seek to document trade ties and places of origin. Where did these Maya come from? With whom did they trade? How did their lifestyles change as refugees? This photo, taken at Lake Mendoza in 2006, marks the beginning of my research in the Lacandon Jungle."