Human impact on a monumental landscape at the microscopic level: an ancient Maya community and its temple

Author(s): Debora Trein

Year: 2015


This paper discusses the results of geochemical and micromorphological analysis of sediment samples in and around a monumental temple structure at the site of La Milpa, northwest Belize. This analysis forms part of a project that aims to examine community agency and practice in public monumental spaces, in particular how the actions of diverse groups of agents influence the functions of monumental architecture. Artifact and architectural evidence gathered over five field seasons at Structure 3 has indicated that the Late Classic period (550-850 CE) constituted a time of intense access and use of the areas surrounding the temple structure. However, this dataset was found to be insufficiently fine-grained to enable the identification of specific types of activities, necessary in understanding how Structure 3 functioned in relation to the La Milpa community. In order to identify and differentiate between discreet activity areas, geochemical characterization of sediments through ICP-MS and sediment micromorphology were employed in over 100 loose sediment and 20 sediment core samples taken from and around Structure 3. Both these techniques are considered to be highly successful in the study of activity areas in the archaeological record, but have had a relatively limited history of application in the Maya Lowlands.

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Human impact on a monumental landscape at the microscopic level: an ancient Maya community and its temple. Debora Trein. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398102)

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Spatial Coverage

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