Ramparts and Channels: Defensive and Hydraulic Architecture at Muralla de León

Author(s): Justin Bracken

Year: 2016


The ongoing project at Muralla de León is investigating the relationship between defensibility, water control, and emergent social complexity in the Petén Lakes Region. Located on the shores of Lake Macanché, recent excavations at the site have zeroed in on the imposing rampart which encircles it, providing evidence for the chronology, as well as the nature, of its construction. Mapping of the site has turned up strong indications of hydraulic architecture both within and outside of the rampart. Though a relatively small site in terms of area, these constructions represent a massive contribution of labor, much of which appears to date as far back as the Late Preclassic period. Thus, this work addresses a series of questions: what was the role of warfare in this era of incipient urbanism among the Maya? How did water control factor in to their spatial planning decisions? What kind of labor budget was needed to complete the job, and who were these workers and under what arrangement were they laboring in this time of increasing social inequality? Finally, how were people living in and using the site?

Cite this Record

Ramparts and Channels: Defensive and Hydraulic Architecture at Muralla de León. Justin Bracken. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404147)


Maya Preclassic Warfare

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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