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  Peten Regional Archaeological Project  
  Role: Project Zooarchaeologist  

How did the residents of the last outpost of the Itza Maya survive?

At the end of the 17th century, the Maya residents of the Peten jungles had finally begun to succumb to the ravages of the Spanish conquistadores, their war machines, their devastating missionizing zeal, and their diseases. But at the site of Tayassal in the center of the Lago Peten Itza, the last Itza Maya king held on to his territory and his pride, refusing to bow to the distant Sp anish ruler. Several years ago, Dr. Richard Hansen, director of the UCLA RAINPEG project recovered a collection of animal bone debitage while doing underwater archaeology around this ancient fortress. I will be analysing these remains in search for clues to understanding how these last survivors managed to feed their families, their nobility, and their soldiers during the final standoff. As an intriguing side-line to this investigation, the site of Tayassal is quite close to the site of Motul de San Jose and the residents of both would have used many of the same resources. What can we learn by comparing the diets of the Motul residents during the Early and Late Classic periods, with those of the Tayassal Postclassic refugees?

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