Activity Area Analysis of Elite and Commoner Spaces in the Ancient Maya City of Actuncan, Belize


This report describes the results of a geochemical analysis of nearly 1,000 samples from earthen and plaster surfaces at Actuncan, a prehispanic Maya city in western Belize. Studies of the social, political, and economic relationships between elites and commoners demonstrate that the lived experiences of both groups were dramatically different. However, we know little about how social roles and relationships impacted the organization and daily use of domestic and public spaces. Multivariate quantitative modeling and spatial interpolation were used to study large expanses of a Terminal Classic commoner residential area, a Late Classic elite palace complex, and a Terminal Classic civic complex. Data from commoner space shows that residents used both formal patio spaces and the interstices between architectural groups for domestic activities. Research in the palace complex demonstrates that a variety of domestic, ritual, and possibly administrative activities took place therein, a finding that challenges previous assessments of palaces as primarily royal residential compounds. The data also indicate that, after the palace was abandoned in the late 8th century, some of its public functions were displaced to a new, dedicated civic complex where community members gathered to participate in the consummation of a new sociopolitical regime.

Cite this Record

Activity Area Analysis of Elite and Commoner Spaces in the Ancient Maya City of Actuncan, Belize. Lisa LeCount, Kara A. Fulton, David W. Mixter, E. Christian Wells, Thomas R. Jamison. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403181)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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