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Building Nature: An Analysis of Landscape Modifications in the Classic Period Maya Polity of Pacbitun, Cayo District, Belize.

Author(s): Jon Spenard

Year: 2016

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Summary

This presentation offers an analysis of the architectural modifications made to the limestone karst landscape in the Classic period Maya polity of Pacbitun in the Cayo District, Belize. The Maya concepts ch’een (hole in the ground for communication with the supernatural world), and k’aax (wilderness) provide the overall framework for this paper. Through two case studies, I explore the range of karst features the Pacbitun Maya used as ch’een, the variety of ways the landmarks were modified for creating specific types of spaces within the landscape, and lastly, I discuss the social implications of these practices. The first case study is Actun Lak cave, an unrestricted ceremonial space open to all community members throughout the Late Preclassic through Early Classic periods, repurposed for a royal rain ritual just prior to the abandonment of the region at the end of the Late Classic. The second case study details the modified components of the Nohoch Tunich bedrock outcrop complex. I propose that the creation of these spaces was an aspect of Maya land management practices, but that the unmodified condition of the building materials was chosen specifically to maintain the wilderness aspect of the place while transformed into a built environment.


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Building Nature: An Analysis of Landscape Modifications in the Classic Period Maya Polity of Pacbitun, Cayo District, Belize.. Jon Spenard. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403343)


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Spatial Coverage

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

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America