Kaminaljuyu Sculpture Project, Guatemala
A Formative Period Civic-Ceremonial Center in the Guatemala Highlands
The archaeological site of Kaminaljuyú was a major Formative period center (c. 1200 BC to AD 250) that today is situated within the urban sprawl of modern-day Guatemala City. As an ancient civic-ceremonial center its inhabitants participated in an interregional interaction sphere that not only facilitated the transfer of tangible goods, but also conveyed ideological concepts and symbolic imagery. Evidence of long distance contacts spanned the eastern half of Mesoamerica including La Venta, Tres Zapotes, Chiapa de Corzo, Teotihuacán, Izapa, Chalchuapa, and in the Maya Lowlands (see map on main page). Kaminaljuyú is thought to be an interface for diverse ethnic and linguistic groups, a multicultural meeting place for Mixe-Zoquean and Mayan speakers.
Kaminaljuyú was a nexus in an evolving sociopolitical landscape and a repository for early pan-Mesoamerican artistic and sculptural canons and conventions. Therefore, the significance of the carved stone corpus at Kaminaljuyú for the study of the evolution of Mesoamerican iconography and epigraphy lies in the fact that various symbolic conventions, emblematic of distant and diverse centers, were present at the site. Researchers have noted that these displays were not unsophisticated efforts but were part of a well-devised program that the later Classic period elite across Mesoamerica would adopt and imitate.
The corpus of monumental stone sculpture has suffered substantial damage and loss. Since the 18th century, the settlement has been destroyed and much of its contents broken, lost, and looted. This project brings together most of the known sculpted stone pieces for purposes of preservation, research, and analysis.
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Credit: We express our gratitude to Juan Carlos Melendez, Director of the Guatemala National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and Claudia Monzón, Past Director, for their collaboration and support of our work. We are also grateful to the Guatemala Ministry of Culture and Sport for their cooperation. Funding was provided by a major research grant from the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc., Crystal River, FL.