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Nancy Peniche May

Nancy is a Mexican archaeologist. Her research interest focus is on the political economy of early complex societies and how political actors used material culture—particularly architecture—as mechanisms of social control. She is also interested in household archaeology, gender studies, and lithic analysis. She approaches these topics through the excavation of sites, laboratory analyses of artifacts, and the use of ethnohistorical sources. Her publications include 18 book chapters and journal articles. Several of her publications are centered on studying architectural manifestations from several perspectives—chronological sequences, styles, and function based on form and artifactual evidence.

She completed her Bachellors Degree at Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan (UADY) in Mexico and her MA and PhD degrees at the University of California, San Diego. Currently, she is collaborating with the Facultad de Arquitectura of UADY where she will be teaching Masters students in Conservación del Patrimonio Arquitectónico.

She has participated in several projects conducted in the Maya Area. In Mexico, she conducted excavations in sites like Caucel, Chichen Itza, Dzidzilché, Sihó, Uaymil, and Xaman Susulá. She has also analyzed lithic collections from Caucel, Ek Balam, Siho, and Jaina. Nancy was introduced into Belizean archaeology in 2010 when she excavated at Lubaantun, Toledo. In 2011, Nancy joined BVAR to conduct her PhD research at Cahal Pech. Her dissertation was centered on comparing public and domestic buildings, associated activities, and distribution of artifacts in order to assess how political actors manipulated the built environment and political economy to obtain, wield, and legitimize power over other members of the community during the Cunil and Kanluk phases (1200-300 B.C.). As part of her research, during three field seasons, she oversaw large-horizonal excavations in Plaza B, the earliest Cahal Pech locus of architectural construction, with the goal of locating Middle Preclassic architecture and artifacts. As a result, she uncovered a complex architectural sequence that extends from the Cunil (1200-900 B.C.) to the Spanish Lookout ceramic phase (A.D.700-900). Comparison of data from these structures with data from the site periphery constituted the basis of her research to study the emergence of social inequality. Since 2014, Nancy has continued excavating at the Cahal Pech acropolis, but aiming to assess the history and social uses of Classic Maya buildings.