Putting El Pilar Back on the Middle Preclassic Map: Assessment and synthesis of the architectural data

Author(s): Sherman Horn; Anabel Ford

Year: 2017


Analyses of early settlement in the eastern Maya Lowlands have benefited from nearly thirty years of research targeting Middle Preclassic (900 – 350 B.C.) occupations in the Belize Valley. Frequently overlooked in these settlement pattern reconstructions is the site of El Pilar, which is situated in the limestone hills to the northwest of the Belize River headwaters. Excavations at El Pilar have primarily focused on the impressive Classic-period architectural remains that comprise the site epicenter, but intact Middle Preclassic structures and deposits beneath these constructions suggest the site was home to a vibrant community from at least 800 B.C. This paper synthesizes Middle Preclassic architectural data from previous excavations at El Pilar to examine the development of the early community through changes in its built environment. We examine the forms and spatial configurations of Middle Preclassic structures as well as the materials used to build them, and we compare these sequences to more extensively excavated examples to contextualize and interpret architectural developments. Early ceremonial structures, including a possible E-group assemblage, suggest El Pilar was an important sociopolitical center during the Middle Preclassic and must be accounted for in settlement models of the Belize Valley and its surroundings.

Cite this Record

Putting El Pilar Back on the Middle Preclassic Map: Assessment and synthesis of the architectural data. Sherman Horn, Anabel Ford. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429422)

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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): 17480