Low-Density Urbanism in the Classic Maya Lowlands: A View from El Perú-Waka’, Guatemala

Author(s): Damien Marken

Year: 2016


As a key example of indigenous New World urbanism, the development, organization, and abandonment Classic Maya cities are subjects of great anthropological importance. Despite their comparative significance, for much of the twentieth century Classic Maya centers (ca. 250-950 C.E.) have been viewed by the public and many scholars as "non-cities," the capitals of complex polities, but lacking the residential density characteristic of fully urban places. Roland Fletcher has recently proposed that Maya urbanism belongs within a new comparative urban type which he calls "low-density, agrarian-based urbanism." Like all typological categories, "low-density, agrarian-based urbanism" is not without its faults, however. This paper will present over ten years of settlement research at the Classic Maya city of El Perú-Waka', Guatemala in order to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Fletcher’s model of low-density urbanism as applied to the Maya area. The data from El Peru-Waka' suggest that while Fletcher’s overall model is widely applicable to the Maya lowlands, several common assumptions about Classic Maya cities require reexamination.

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Low-Density Urbanism in the Classic Maya Lowlands: A View from El Perú-Waka’, Guatemala. Damien Marken. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404932)

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