ASI at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting

Field Director Alec McLellan is presenting his research on Mesoamerican archaeology at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.

The theme for this year’s symposium is Changing Climates: Struggle, Collaboration, and Justice.

There are many great papers, workshops, and posters on the roster this year! Check out the full program here.

Alec’s paper is a perfect fit for the overall theme of the conference. He is presenting “Impact of the Collapse? Evidence of Migration into the Greater Lamanai Area,” a paper he coauthored with Elizabeth Graham of the University College London.


Human-induced climate change has been listed as one of the key factors in the dissolution of many Precolumbian Maya cities in the southern lowlands in the Late to Terminal Classic period (AD 600-900).  Archaeologists argue that intensive human modification of the natural environment increased both the length and severity of periods of drought.  The scale of the transformation has been referred to as the “Mayacene.” Although many Maya cities were depopulated during the Late to Terminal Classic, there is little evidence to demonstrate the movement of populations between these abandoned cities and those that continued to be occupied in the Terminal and Early Postclassic periods (AD 800-1250).  Lamanai has long been recognized as a site that survived the Maya collapse (AD 600-900), flourished during the transition to the Postclassic period (AD 900-1500) and continued to be a focus of settlement in the Spanish colonial period. Recent research into the historical trajectory of the civic-ceremonial centre and the peripheries has indicated that Lamanai experienced a major population expansion in the Terminal and Early Postclassic.  Migration is one of the leading explanations for the rapid growth of population at Lamanai during these periods.  This presentation addresses the ways in which several important expansions in settlement in the Terminal to Early Postclassic periods at Lamanai affected the prosperity of the city and offers insight into climate change and its effect on the composition of ancient societies.

We would encourage you to check out the full session he is participating in: Changing Climates for Mesoamerican Archaeology: Collaboration across Canada.

Date: Wednesday November 20th

Time: 4:30-6:15 pm

Location: Vancouver Convention Centre, Room 119 , West Level 1