Campus Box 1114
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
Societal Collapse and Regeneration, Social Change, Collective Memory, Resistance, Relationality, Archaeology of Communities, Ancient Maya, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Activity Area Studies, Microartifacts, Soil Chemistry
Currently, my research focuses on the early urbanization that accompanied the adoption of centralized rulership at Actuncan during the first millennium B.C. This program of research is aimed at 1) investigating the legitimizing principles that underpinned early hierarchy at the site and 2) understanding the relationship of sites on the Preclassic frontier, like Actuncan, to the contemporaneous hegemonic capital of El Mirador, located 110 km away. The ongoing phase of excavations and laboratory analyses is focused on the early construction of monumental architecture, the activities that took place in early public spaces, and the Preclassic monumental art programs known to decorate the site’s early pyramids. A second phase will focus on households in the hinterland to evaluate the growth of Actuncan’s urban core and the integration of diverse populations into the Preclassic Maya settlement.
For my dissertation, I am researching how people at the ancient Maya community of Actuncan, Belize reorganized their social and political institutions following the 9th century ancient Maya collapse. In contrast to the depopulation seen through much of the southern Maya Lowlands, Actuncan appears to have been place of aggregation and political experimentation during the Terminal Classic period (A.D. 780 to 1000). The site’s shifting structures of authority are marked by a dramatic shift in the construction and use of civic and ceremonial architecture at the site. In particular, my research focuses on understanding the function of Terminal Classic civic architecture through a combination of architectural research and microarchaeological proxies, such as microartifact and soil chemistry distributions, for activity spaces.
Building on Actuncan’s 2000 year occupation, I am also interested in understanding how the Maya collapse led to a restructuring of the legitimization of authority. Because the Classic period political system of divine kings conflated political legitimacy with religion, the failure of the system during the collapse must have resulted in a restructuring in the relationship between authority and cosmology. To this end, I plan to investigate the engagement of Actuncan’s Terminal Classic community with the monumental Classic period architecture that surrounds them. How was social memory evoked to legitimize Actuncan’s authority following the collapse of the divine kings? To this end, I will investigate the nature of Terminal Classic ritual activity taking place within the site’s largest Classic period ceremonial complex.
In Review MIXTER, D. W. Political Change Expressed in Public Architecture: The Terminal Classic Maya Civic Complex at Actuncan, Belize. Submitted to Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology.
Accepted MIXTER, D. W. Community Reconstruction and Urban Planning Following the 9th Century Maya Collapse: A Case Study from Actuncan, Belize. Accepted by Acta Mesoamericana. Publication expected in 2017.
2017 MIXTER, D. W. Collective Remembering in Archaeology: A Relational Approach to Ancient Maya Memory. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 24(1).
2017 MIXTER, D. W. and Edward R. Henry. Introduction to Webs of Memory, Frames of Power: Collective Memory in the Archaeological Record. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. doi:10.1007/s10816-017-9323-5
2016 LeCount, L. J., E. Christian Wells, T. R. Jamison, and D. W. MIXTER. Geochemical Characterization of Inorganic Residues on Plaster Floors from the Palace Complex at Actuncan, Belize. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 5:453-464.
2015 Simova, B., D. W. MIXTER, and L. J. LeCount. The Social Lives of Structures: Ritual Resignification of the Cultural Landscape at Actuncan, Belize. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 12:193-204.
2014 MIXTER, D. W., K. A. Fulton, L. H. Bussiere, and L. J. LeCount. Living through Collapse: An Analysis of Maya Residential Modifications during the Terminal Classic Period at Actuncan, Cayo, Belize. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 11:55-66.
2014 Freiwald, C., D. W. MIXTER, and N. Billstrand. Burial Practices at Actuncan, Belize: A Seated Burial and Ongoing Analysis from the 2001-2013 Field Seasons. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 11:95-109.
2013 MIXTER, D. W., T. R. Jamison, and L. J. LeCount. Actuncan’s Noble Court: New Insights into Political Strategies of an Enduring Center in the Upper Belize River Valley. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 10:91-103.
2011 M.K. Brown, J. Cochran, L. McCurdy, and D.W. Mixter. Preceramic to Postclassic: A Brief Synthesis of the Occupation History of Group E, Xunantunich. Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology 8: 209-219.