Architecting the Underworld: What is a Southern Maya Lowland Chultun?

Author(s): Toni Gonzalez; Samantha Lorenz

Year: 2017


Chultunes, man-made subterranean chambers excavated into limestone bedrock, are ubiquitous features encountered throughout the Maya cultural region. Although studies in the Northern Lowlands have demonstrated that chultunes in that locale functioned as water cisterns, the ascription of them as purely utilitarian within the Southern Lowlands is under much debate. One issue that hinders dialogue is lack of a commonly accepted understanding of what constitutes a chultun. The first aim of this paper is therefore to elaborate on specific characteristics that can be used to identify these subterranean features. The second is to couple a ritual landscape approach with the theoretical paradigm utilized by cave archaeologists to begin to frame questions about what the morphology and spatial distribution of chultunes within and between sites can tell us about their importance to and utilization by the ancient Maya.

Cite this Record

Architecting the Underworld: What is a Southern Maya Lowland Chultun?. Toni Gonzalez, Samantha Lorenz. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430297)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16671