Pedro Guillermo Ramón Celis
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationIndiana U., Bloomington
Grant numberGr. 10341
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleRamón Celis, Pedro (Indiana U., Bloomington) "Constructing a city, the role of commoners in the building of Guiengola, Oaxaca"
This project traces one of Oaxaca’s legendary migration events, the Zapotec migration and conquest of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the construction of the fortress and city of Guiengola during the Late Postclassic period (A.D. 1250-1521). Ethnohistoric documents suggest that the Zapotec elite migrated from the highland Central Valleys to the coastal Isthmus of Tehuantepec for their own political and economic gain, but what remains unclear is how they convinced thousands of Zapotec commoners to join the effort. To answer this question, Ramón Celis will map the urban layout and residential neighborhoods of Guiengola and systematically document archaeological assemblages from 38 buildings at the migration’s destination site of Guiengola. The similarities and differences in the architectural patterns and artifacts speak to who was making construction decisions, how access to consumer goods was managed, and how commoners were interacting with this new and unfamiliar environment. This project adopts a decolonial research methodology by utilizing remote sensing technologies for collecting data and combining photogrammetry and a LiDAR scan to create detailed maps of the archaeological site and house floor assemblages. These technologies fulfill the protocols of respect that the Zapotec landowners of the site have requested, implementing non-destructive, non-invasive research strategies.