Landscape and Formative Households at Tzacauil and Yaxuná, Yucatán

Author(s): Chelsea Fisher

Year: 2016


A population boom during the Late Formative period (ca. 250 BCE-250 CE) corresponded with the expansion of permanent, aggregated settlements across Mesoamerica. In central Yucatán, Yaxuná was a centralizing focus during the Formative, yet it was not the only place that attracted settlers – so did the nearby, smaller site of Tzacauil. In this dynamic time, what was the relationship between a large center like Yaxuná and its humbler neighbors like Tzacauil? Was Tzacauil an autonomous hamlet, or is it better thought of as a far-flung but culturally integrated segment of Yaxuná? We can approach who these initial permanent settlers were and how they interacted through their houses. Formative houses at both Tzacauil and Yaxuná show patterned preferences for specific landscape features. The influence of bedrock promontories and depressions on initial settlement cannot be understated, as I demonstrate with data from excavations of Formative houses and surface collection. This link between landscape and settlement is not simply one of ecology; rather, it is intrinsic to cultural, economic, and religious patterns that persist for centuries in the northern lowlands. As such this comparison provides an opportunity for understanding changing relationships between an incipient urban center and its surroundings.

Cite this Record

Landscape and Formative Households at Tzacauil and Yaxuná, Yucatán. Chelsea Fisher. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404858)

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Spatial Coverage

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