Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. R. Jason Sherman

Committee Members

Dr. R. Jason Sherman, Dawn Scher Thomae, Dr. Jean Hudson


Archaeology, Chajul, Guatemala, Maya, Milwaukee Public Museum


This thesis examines a collection of 120 artifacts recovered from a tomb at the highland Maya site of Chajul, Guatemala, and currently housed at the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM). Prior to this study, research on the MPM collection was very limited and there were few publications related to Chajul. The study focuses primarily on the 84 ceramic objects in the Museum’s collection. Detailed analysis of these artifacts was undertaken in order to collect data on their likely dates of production, forms, surface treatment’s, functions, and iconography. Contextual information from the tomb is also considered, including details of its construction as well as the arrangement of the grave goods and human remains found in it. Comparative data on ceramic artifacts and tombs uncovered by researchers at neighboring sites in the Maya highlands, as well as more distant sites in the lowlands, are also considered. The results of this study suggest that the tomb at Chajul was constructed early in the Late Classic and reused during the Postclassic. There is also evidence that demonstrates that Chajul was a major center whose elite inhabitants had trade relations with other highland and lowland Maya communities. Furthermore, this study enhances our understanding of ancient mortuary practices at Chajul and in the Maya highlands, in general.