El Castillo (pyramid of Kukulcán) in Chichén Itzá (by Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The July issue of Knowable Magazine published an interview with Jeremy Sabloff, External Professor Emeritus of SFI and past President of the Institute (2009-2015), about his work on “the archaeology of common folk,” which is reviewed in the 2019 Annual Review of Anthropology.

Traditionally, archaeologists hunted spectacular finds, like Tutankhamen’s tomb, that could be brought back to museums to capture the public’s imagination. Jeremy has been more concerned with illuminating the lives of commoners and their settlements, specifically the Mayans, to give a much richer picture of ancient societies.

In the Annual Review article, Sabloff looks back over the 50-plus years of his career and reviews what archaeologists have learned about the Maya through the study of settlement patterns. 

In the Knowable interview, Jeremy makes the point that seeking to understand the lives of whole populations gives context to more modern problems, such as the archaeology of slavery and even the sociology of homeless and refugee camps.