National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Bernadette Cap

Affiliation: University of Texas at San Antonio

Bernadette Cap is  Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Department of Anthropology; she holds her degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Ph.D. and M.S.), and Cleveland State University.  Her area of specialization is ancient Mesoamerica, particularly the Classic Maya economy.  Dr. Cap’s dissertation, Classic Maya Economies: Identification of a Marketplace at Buenavista del Cayo, Belize, was awarded the 2017 Best Dissertation Award by the Society for American Archaeology. 


The identification of marketplaces among the Classic Maya has come late for several reasons, one of which is that they were most often open-air events in which perishable, temporary stalls were created and thus challenging to find archaeologically. Their discovery however, has caused major changes to our understandings of the complex ways in the Maya interacted and were integrated. This lecture explores the ways in which Classic Maya marketplaces (AD 500-900) served to provide staple goods for households and could be influential in the political strategies of Maya rulers. Marketplaces at the sites of Buenavista del Cayo and Xunantunich located 5 km from each other in the Mopan River valley of Belize are discussed in detail. The extensive research strategy applied at these sites has contributed to settling the debate as to the existence of Classic Maya marketplaces and addresses questions about their diversity.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

King, Eleanor (editor), The Maya Marketplace: The Archaeology of Transient Space. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

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