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Victor Castillo

About Victor Castillo

My research interests revolve around the study of the social processes that created the settings for community survival in contexts of colonialism.  In particular,  I am interested in exploring religious change during the transitional period between pre-Hispanic and colonial times in Mesoamerica and how ritual and religion articulated community-based responses to colonialism.

Selected Publications

Triadan, Daniela,   Victor Castillo, Takeshi Inomata, Juan Manuel Palomo, Maria Melen Mendez, Monica Cortave, Jessica MacLellan, Melissa Burham and Erick Ponciano. 2017. Social Transformations in a Middle Preclassic Community: Elite Complexes at Ceibal.  Ancient Mesoamerica 28:233-264. 

Castillo, Victor. 2015.  La Virgen de Chiantla: Historia y Tradición oral en la Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, Guatemala. In Arte y Arquitectura en la Antigua Provincia de Chiapas y Guatemala, edited by Eugenio Martín Torres Torres OP, pp. 315–338. Instituto Dominicano de Investigaciones Históricas, Santiago de Querétaro.

Inomata, Takeshi, Daniela Triadan, Kazuo Aoyama, Victor Castillo, Hitoshi Yonenobu. 2013.  Early Ceremonial Constructions at Ceibal, Guatemala, and the Origins of Lowland Maya Civilization. Science  340(467):467-471.

Castillo, Victor, Hector Neff, Ronald L. Bishop, Erin N. Sears, and M. James Blackman. 2009.   Mujeres y contrahechos: las figurillas moldeadas de la Costa Sur de Guatemala. In ,XXII Simposio de  Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2008 (Edited by J.P.Laporte, B.Arroyo and H.Mejía), pp 909-912. Museo Nacional de Arqueología  y Etnología. Guatemala. 


Areas of Study



Chiantla Viejo Archaeological Project. Director (2017).  This research project addresses the social processes involved in the abandonment and reoccupation of Late Postclassic highland Maya settlements during the sixteenth century as a result of the sociopolitical changes derived from the Spanish conquest. Specifically, this project focuses on understanding the role of spaces for public ritual and communal gathering as stages for negotiation between the colonial regime and the native community. This project is funded by an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Award.

In Search of the Old Town.  (2014 to 2016). This project worked on several lines of evidence trying to reconstruct the sociopolitical organization of the Mam Maya of the western Guatemalan highlands during pre-Hispanic times.   The main objectives of the project are to study to what extent conventions of community and shared historical experience outlasted the Spanish conquest and the colonial period, and how archaeological sites and memories of foundation constitute significant conventions of community life in modern Guatemalan towns. This project aims to appreciate local oral traditions regarding archaeological sites as places of memory and relevance for modern Maya communities.

Chaculá Archaeological Project. Director (2013).  The Chaculá Project located and mapped the sites reported by the early Mesoamericanist scholar Eduard Seler in the late 19th century in northwestern Guatemala. In doing so, the Chaculá Project provided a framework to understand the role of a transitional area between the Maya lowlands and the highlands of Guatemala and Chiapas.

Ceibal-Petexbatun Archaeological Project. Field and Laboratory Archaeologist (2009-2011), Guatemalan co-Director (2012), Graduate Research Assistant (2011-2015).  I have participated in this project under the direction of Dr. Takeshi Inomata and Dr. Daniela Triadan conducting intensive and extensive excavations at Ceibal, Guatemala, an important Maya site in the lowlands. My research here has been focused on understanding the continuities and transformations of early elite platforms and their implication for the seminal development of lowland Maya civilization.

Research Interests

Religion and ritual

Colonialism and community formation processes

Historiography and Archaeology

Oral History and Archaeology


The Maya area

Victor Castillo's picture

Contact Information

Office: Haury 408A


MA - Antrhopology. Unviersity of Arizona (2013)

Licenciatura in Archaeology. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (2008)

Dissertation Title

Conquest and Religious Change in the Sixteenth-Century Maya Highlands. Excavations at Chiantla Viejo, Guatemala.