Research News

Eberl receives grant to study the cultural identity of Q’eqchi’ Maya

Markus Eberl (Vanderbilt University)

Markus Eberl, assistant professor of anthropology, has received a $17,500 grant from the Gerda Henkel Foundation to study how the Q’eqchi’ Maya’s cultural identity has changed since moving from their ancient homelands in the mountains to the tropical lowlands, where they are now surrounded by the archaeological ruins of the Classical Maya city of Tamarindito.

“In the highlands, Q’eqchi’ ritual practices involve the tzuultaq’as, supernatural beings and ancestors who reside on mountains and own the land,” Eberl said. “The lowlands offer a human-made alternative in the pyramids of archaeological sites like Tamarindito, which the ancient Maya revered as artificial mountains.”

Over the coming year, Eberl will interview the transplanted Q’eqchi’ to learn how their new environment has affected their spiritual practices and, by extension, their identities as a people.

Based in Dusseldorf, Germany, the Gerda Henkel Foundation primarily supports the historical humanities.

pyramid covered in grass and trees
One of the major pyramids at the Tamarandito site (Courtesy Markus Eberl)