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Sheets, Payson



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research overview

  • I have two research projects involving fieldwork: (1) Remote sensing of ancient societies in Costa Rica, with NASA collaboration, and (2) Investigating the Maya village of Ceren in El Salvador. We recently found an agricultural system that was previously unknown, focused on sophisticated cultivation of manioc, a root crop. They grew manioc more successfully in ancient times than today, so we will be introducing those procedures to help feed people in the crowded and poor country of El Salvador. I also am comparing impacts of explosive volcanic eruptions on ancient societies, and finding egalitarian cultures to be much more resilient than states. I am beginning a new research effort to see if the huge Ilopango volcanic eruption in El Salvador was what caused the worldwide disaster. It was over a decade of cold and dry conditions that resulted in starvation and in many cases overthrow of governments and loss of confidence in religions.


  • Mesoamerican archaeology, Intermediate Area archaeology, Volcanic eruptions, Stress on ancient societies, Sustainability, Resilience and Vulnerability theory


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