Geochemical Analysis of Maya Commoner Houses and the Spaces in Between at Actuncan, Belize

Author(s): Kara Fulton

Year: 2016


This research considers commoner activity patterns by investigating the results of a geochemical analysis of 500+ samples from earthen surfaces at Actuncan, a prehispanic Maya city located in western Belize. Samples derive from Terminal Classic surfaces of commoner houses as well as the open spaces surrounding them. Archaeological research has often focused on areas that contain visible architecture, since those regions are most easily recognizable as places that contained ancient activity, while neglecting the open spaces between. When ancient use of open spaces is considered, most researchers have focused their investigative efforts towards the exploration of formalized patios and plazas. However, less effort has been devoted to non–formalized space, such as the areas between residences, particularly open areas surrounding commoner houses. With the advent of modern methods, such as soil chemical residue analysis, these open spaces can be investigated in new ways in an attempt to explore how ancient people used architecture–free zones in comparison to architectural areas. Results of this research show that residents of the sample area actively engaged with not only architecturally defined spaces, but also with the interstitial spaces in between. Further, activities conducted in these spaces appear to have been distinct.

Cite this Record

Geochemical Analysis of Maya Commoner Houses and the Spaces in Between at Actuncan, Belize. Kara Fulton. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 402967)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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