Preclassic Maya Territories and Boundaries

Author(s): James Doyle

Year: 2015


Many Classic period (ca. AD 250-900) polities owe the location of their royal courts to decisions made by settlers in the Preclassic period (ca. 1000 BC – AD 250). This presentation evaluates the basic question of whether there is evidence of territories or political boundaries in the Preclassic Maya Lowlands. In the past, I have argued that Middle Preclassic residents constructed monumental E-Group architecture at specific places on the landscape as a conscious creation of distance between themselves and their neighbors. I based my conclusion on viewshed analysis that showed that early communities had complementary visible access to the landscape, in other words, non-overlapping views when measured from the E-Group. Here I interrogate the meaning of the perceived distance or implied boundaries between these monumental centers.

I include the latest evidence from ceramic production. The Mamom sphere ceramics, produced for several hundred years across the Maya Lowlands, complicate the question, as we lack any long-range studies of regional or polity-scale differences in the raw materials, production technology, or surface decoration of these vessels. I also reexamine the original data set of similar plazas and pyramidal architecture in the Middle Preclassic given new discoveries in recent years.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Preclassic Maya Territories and Boundaries. James Doyle. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395253)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;