Upcoming Lectures

Until further notice, all meetings will be held virtually.



When: Friday, May 14, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Where: Google Meet (meet.google.com/jta-cmzn-tgn)
Cost: Free & Open to the Public


Games of Change and Fate: Patolli at the Ancient Maya Site of Gallon Jug, Belize

Claire Novotny, PhD
Kenyon College

Portrait of Novotny

Recent research at the ancient Maya site of Gallon Jug, located in northwestern Belize, documented several patolli boards incised into a plaster floor on a platform in Courtyard B-01, an elite residential group. Patolli are game boards used for leisure, gambling, and/or ritual practices and are found at sites throughout Mesoamerica. Patolli boards fall under the much wider corpus of graffiti–or informal incisions into stucco– that appear in different architectural contexts such as walls, benches, and floors throughout Mesoamerica. Graffiti provides a unique perspective on lived experience and daily cultural practices that are difficult to access through other lines of archaeological evidence. In this vein, patolli are an interesting aspect of the holistic worldview of the ancient Maya, since they combine accessing the supernatural through ritual practice with the fairly quotidian and informal act of gaming. How were the Maya residents of Gallon Jug using these patolli boards? Was this the residence of a ritual specialist who hosted events aimed at divining the fate of the Gallon Jug populace? This presentation will address these and other questions about ancient Maya games and ritual divination.

Claire Novotny, PhD, is an assistant professor of anthropology at Kenyon. Her research interests include the archaeology of ancient Maya households and rural communities, the role of identity in social and political affiliation and public archaeology. While studying for her MA in applied anthropology at the University of South Florida, Claire became interested in how archaeological knowledge is created and used in contemporary societies, specifically among Indigenous communities. For her dissertation research at UNC-Chapel Hill, she worked with Aguacate, a Q’eqchi’ Maya village located in southern Belize, to design and implement a community archaeology project that investigated ancient Maya archaeological sites on community land. The project was a collaborative effort that sought the participation of local people in the creation of knowledge about their history and heritage.




March 2021: Ray Sumner: The Days After Colorado’s Darkest Day: Initial Work at an Early Indian Wars Battlefield in Colorado, USA

February 2021: Jayson P. Gill: The Transcaucasian Expedition: Exploring the Archaeological Record of the Armenian Pleistocene

January 2021: Dr. Christopher J. Kerns: Archaeological Inquiries and the Orcadian Neolithic — Did Orcadian Archaeologists Change Archaeology

December 2020: Mark Willis: Archaeology in 3D

November 2020: Reid Farmer: Desert Training Center: World War II Military Archaeology in the California Desert

October 2020: Bonnie J. Clark, PhD: Finding Solace in the Soil: The Archaeology of Gardens and Gardeners at Colorado’s Japanese American Internment Camp

August 2020: Dr. Mark Mitchell: Warfare on the Northern Plains: Quantifying the Construction of Community Fortification at the Molander Site

July 2020: Carlton Shield Chief Gover: Dating Apps in Archaeology

June 2020: Amelia Brackett, Chance Nelson: The Boulder Apple Tree Project

May 2020: Christian Driver: The History of Settlers Park



Is there a particular speaker that you would like to see? Email the IPCAS Vice President to suggest a speaker.