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Solid Foundations: Practical and Symbolic Significance of Bedrock at El Castillo Acropolis of Xunantunich, Belize in the Maya Central Lowlands

Author(s): Leah McCurdy

Year: 2017

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Summary

Not all excavations reach to bedrock. In the Maya Central Lowlands, exposing bedrock can be difficult due to the longevity of occupational sequences and the sometimes confounding presence of thick, seemingly endless Preclassic marl floors. In some cases, our ability to reach and examine bedrock helps us to consider early living and ceremonial spaces, masonry and structural techniques, as well as potential emic connections of natural limestone mountains and cultural manifestations of limestone temples. At the site of Xunantunich, Belize, we have evidence to support each of these considerations. In this paper, I focus on our findings of deliberately exposed bedrock during at least one building phase of El Castillo acropolis. I propose that the juxtaposition of exposed bedrock with a newly renovated temple structure above it, including an elaborate stucco frieze proclaiming divine and kingly prominence in the region, springs from the interconnectedness of the natural and built environments (as we distinguish them today) in the Maya worldview. The linkages of nature/culture in this example likely relate to messages of power and expressions of cosmology. Broadly, this case study resonates with cross-cultural questions about how humans conceptualize, interface with, and modify their surroundings.


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Cite this Record

Solid Foundations: Practical and Symbolic Significance of Bedrock at El Castillo Acropolis of Xunantunich, Belize in the Maya Central Lowlands. Leah McCurdy. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429160)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15449

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America