Investigating the Presence of Neighborhoods in Classic Maya Dispersed Settlement Patterns


Classic Maya settlement patterns can be characterized as dispersed or ‘low density’. Yet among the dispersed house groups scattered across the landscape, patterns of residential clustering can often be discerned. These settlement clusters likely resulted from an array of different forms of interaction which collectively acted as centripetal forces bringing people together. For this reason, Maya residential clusters probably represent extended corporate groups or neighborhoods. Unlike their nucleated urban counterparts in other early states, Maya dispersed settlement patterns present difficulties when defining cluster membership and determining where to effectively ‘draw the lines’ around possible neighborhoods. This presentation explores ways to better delineate dispersed neighborhoods at a micro-regional level through the application of various spatial analyses which have been traditionally used to discern political boundaries and polity affiliation at a regional scale. These techniques are applied to the hinterland settlement patterns of the Late/Terminal Classic (AD 600-900) Maya polity of Lower Dover, Belize, to investigate the presence of neighborhoods and patterns of interaction between households. The results suggest the presence of several distinct neighborhoods structured around large intermediate elite residential and ceremonial centers.

Cite this Record

Investigating the Presence of Neighborhoods in Classic Maya Dispersed Settlement Patterns. John Walden, Michael Biggie, Rafael Guerra, Julie Hoggarth. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428949)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16915