Preclassic Monumental Architecture at Xunantunich, Belize: Implications for Ritual Performance

Author(s): Zoe Rawski; M. Kathryn Brown

Year: 2016


Recent investigations in the Preclassic site core at the site of Xunantunich have revealed new evidence for ritual activity at the site’s earliest monumental structures. This ceremonial core, recently designated Early Xunantunich, is composed of three plazas, an E-Group, and several large, flat-topped platforms. The largest of these platforms forms the northern boundary of the site, measuring 100-115 meters wide and over 10 meters tall. Recent excavations of this platform revealed at least three construction phases, including an inset staircase on its southern face similar to those seen in other Preclassic platforms in the Belize River valley. All three construction phases at the associated E-Group’s eastern architectural complex also contain inset staircases, and we believe the presence of stair blocks at both locations to be suggestive of public ritual performances. Within the final phase of the northern platform’s central staircase, a small lip to lip ceramic vessel cache containing two carved jadeite heads was encountered. This Terminal Preclassic center-line offering has implications for more formalized ritual activities by this period. In this paper we highlight our recent findings at Early Xunantunich and present preliminary interpretations related to the function of the northern platform and its relation to the E-Group complex.

Cite this Record

Preclassic Monumental Architecture at Xunantunich, Belize: Implications for Ritual Performance. Zoe Rawski, M. Kathryn Brown. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404986)

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Spatial Coverage

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