Preclassic Roots of Well-Trodden Routes in the Central Maya Lowlands of Belize


Traditional approaches to ancient Maya territories focus on site hierarchies, which are defined by a capital with monumental architecture and an elite body that controls a hinterland population. In the central lowlands, E-Groups are among the earliest monumental architecture found and are almost always associated with sites that later develop into large Classic Maya capitals, such as Tikal and Naranjo. Thus, scholars suggest that E-Groups are in some way connected to early forms of Maya political authority and territorial control. Current scholarship emphasizes the desire to create distance between monumental centers with E-Groups as a means of demarcating territorial claims and resources. We cross-examine these politico-economic explanations and suggest an alternative model that emphasizes inclusion whereby such monumental constructions facilitated connections between communities through regular social gatherings, such as ceremonies involving agriculture, marriage, and feasting. We examine shared traditions in early monumental architecture in the mid-to-upper Belize Valley and the concomitant exchange of goods, namely high densities of groundstone, which point to female involvement and large-scale feasting activities associated with these complexes. Examining both archaeological and geospatial data (least-cost and viewshed analyses), we explore the roots and routes of these connections among settlements in this area from Preclassic times onward.

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Cite this Record

Preclassic Roots of Well-Trodden Routes in the Central Maya Lowlands of Belize. Marieka Brouwer Burg, Eleanor Harrison-Buck, Astrid Runggaldier. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395259)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;