The Economic Landscape of Caracol, Belize

Author(s): Diane Chase; Arlen Chase

Year: 2016


The economies of the ancient Maya did not exist in vacuums; rather, they were interconnected to each other. This paper details the way in which one of these economies functioned during the Late Classic Period (A.D. 550-900). Archaeological research at Caracol, Belize has been able to reconstruct how ancient Maya production and exchange systems were functioning within a large metropolitan area that serviced over 100,000 people. The population of Caracol maintained agricultural self-sufficiency on the residential level and produced a wide variety of crafts in their households for trade and exchange. Many quotidian goods were imported into the city for distribution, as were items of higher value. Specific exchange areas, in the form of formal plazas, were established to administer the distribution and exchange of goods. These plaza areas were also likely the locations for other administrative services. These physical locales were managed by local elites who in turn had central oversight. The transactions that occurred in these plazas not only served local inhabitants but also presumably resulted in the collection of taxes on the goods and services being traded, thereby bolstering the local and site center’s elite.

Cite this Record

The Economic Landscape of Caracol, Belize. Diane Chase, Arlen Chase. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403036)


Economy Markets Maya

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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