Pedro Guillermo Ramón Celis

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Indiana U., Bloomington

Grant number

Gr. 10341

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Ramón Celis, Pedro (Indiana U., Bloomington) "Constructing a city, the role of commoners in the building of Guiengola, Oaxaca"

PEDRO RAMON CELIS, then a graduate student at Indiana Univeristy, Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded a grant in April 2022 to aid research on “Constructing a City, the Role of Commoners in the Building of Guiengola, Oaxaca,” supervised by Dr. Stacie Marie King. This project focused on tracing 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, the project mapped the urban layout and residential neighborhoods of Guiengola and systematically documented archaeological assemblages from 38 buildings at the migration’s destination site of Guiengola. Additionally, utilizing photogrammetry and a LiDAR scan detailed maps of the entire archaeological site were created. These technologies fulfill the protocols of respect that the Zapotec landowners of the site have requested, implementing non-destructive, non-invasive research strategies, which did not extract any archaeological material from the site. The mapping uncovered the intricacies of the ancient city, making possible to document 1191 buildings, all of them spread through different sectors such as a civic-ceremonial center, surrounded by different neighborhoods where the commoners dwelt.