Posted by: Johan Normark | January 8, 2010

Defending the causeways of Ichmul and Yo’okop

I defended my dissertation thesis on the Maya causeways at Ichmul and Yo’okop on December 15, 2006. At that time I had no plans to start a blog but I have thought about posting something about that occasion. In the Swedish system we have an opponent that has read the thesis (probably the only one that ever reads the whole thing). His or her task is to critically exam it and oppose the defender in a public event.

My opponent was Scott Hutson from University of Kentucky. Since my thesis also included some philosophical stuff as well, my thesis advisor Per Cornell and I had come to the conclusion that a Mayanist who knows contemporary archaeological theory that is not culture historical or processual would be the best bet. These people are not abundant but Scott, who has co-authored a book with Ian Hodder and has had Rosemary Joyce as his advisor, felt suitable for the task. He has also directed the field work at the major site of Chunchucmil. Here is a shot of Scott in action. 


Scott Hutson

This picture shows the occasion when the committee member Frands Herschend from Uppsala University (second from left) declared me (to the left) as successful in defending my dissertation. The other people are from left to right: Håkan Karlsson (committee, Göteborg University), Scott Hutson, Göran Aijmer (committee, Göteborg University) and Per Cornell (thesis advisor, Göteborg University). Photo by Petar Cvijovic who came all the way from Serbia to attend my defense. We had never met before but he had found my stuff on the Microarchaeological homepage. He is now at Columbia University.


Becoming doctor

Hence the “opposition” went well and later on we had a dinner with Caribbean theme. My wife made this cake in the form of a causeway (sacbe). Check out the terminus area (pyramid, stela, altar and range structures). Also note the profile and the huge trowel used to dig into the construction fill of the cake. 


The sacbe cake


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