Multiple Waves of Political Disintegration in the Classic Maya Collapse: New Insights from the Excavation of Group D, Ceibal, Guatemala

Damien Bazy, Takeshi Inomata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


In the study of the Classic Maya collapse around the 9th century a.d., scholars tend to emphasize its gradual nature. New data, however, point to multiple episodes of rapid social change that affected wide areas. We investigated these critical moments at Ceibal (Seibal), Guatemala, through intensive excavations in its Group D. This naturally defensible location was used as a primary elite complex, possibly including a royal palace, during the Late Classic period (a.d. 600–810). By refining the chronology, we have identified four episodes of political disruption, including the impact of a military defeat by the Dos Pilas dynasty in a.d. 735, the takeover of Ceibal by an illegitimate ruler in a.d. 771, the ritual destruction of various buildings at the Ceibal dynastic collapse around a.d. 810, and the final abandonment of Ceibal around a.d. 900. These finds provide significant insights into the process of political disintegration in the Maya lowlands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-96
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 4 2017



  • Ceibal
  • chronology
  • Classic Maya
  • formation process
  • political collapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

Cite this