From the Known to the Unknown: Exposing a Middle Preclassic Maya Power Structure at Pacbitun, Belize

Author(s): Kaitlin Crow; George Micheletti; Terry Powis

Year: 2017


The Middle Preclassic (900-300 BC) is known as a time for developing complexity in Maya society. The most perceptible evidence of this development is exhibited in the construction of the earliest forms of monumental architecture. However, for areas like the Belize River Valley, these structures are uncommon and poorly understood. Now, with the discovery of a large Middle Preclassic platform at the site of Pacbitun, we have the opportunity to increase our understanding of early monumental constructions that brought communities together and established power structures within Maya culture. Over the last few years, the Pacbitun Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP) has worked to uncover this large ceremonial structure dubbed El Quemado which was found buried beneath Plaza A in the site core. Excavations of El Quemado continue to assess the structure’s dimensions and orientation and search for its earliest architectural form. Our investigations have also begun to explore the use of the area around the temple to identify potential adjacent sub-plaza structures. This paper will summarize our research to date and our latest excavations of El Quemado and Plaza A to provide a new understanding of public ceremonialism during a critical developmental period of political and social structures at Pacbitun.

Cite this Record

From the Known to the Unknown: Exposing a Middle Preclassic Maya Power Structure at Pacbitun, Belize. Kaitlin Crow, George Micheletti, Terry Powis. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428941)

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Archaeology Maya

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16899