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Artifact Distributions, Interaction Networks, and Social Complexity: Middle Preclassic development at Cahal Pech from a small-world perspective

Author(s): Sherman Horn

Year: 2016

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Summary

The temporal position of the Middle Preclassic (c. 900 – 350 B.C.), situated between the earliest permanent settlements and hierarchically organized Late Preclassic polities, makes it a critical period for understanding the development of complex societies in the Belize Valley and the Maya Lowlands. From 2004 – 2009, the Belize Valley Archaeological Project’s excavations produced a trove of information on the Middle Preclassic occupation beneath Plaza B in the epicenter of Cahal Pech. Variability in platform architecture, construction sequences, caching patterns, and the consumption of local and exotic materials suggest this early community was structured in ways not easily explained by current conceptions of early ranked societies. This paper presents a synthesis of the Plaza B excavations and proposes a new model for understanding the development of complex social organization from a network perspective. Analyses of architectural investment and artifact distribution patterns suggest the Middle Preclassic inhabitants of Cahal Pech differentially participated in socioeconomic networks that integrated the early community and connected it to others within and beyond the Belize Valley. Dynamic interactions within Middle Preclassic small-world networks, which linked lowland communities within and between regions, were crucial to the development of the institutionalized hierarchy that characterized later Maya civilization.


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Artifact Distributions, Interaction Networks, and Social Complexity: Middle Preclassic development at Cahal Pech from a small-world perspective. Sherman Horn. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403750)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


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