The Streets of Nixtun-Ch’ich’, Guatemala

Author(s): Timothy Pugh

Year: 2017


Nixtun-Ch’ich’ in Petén, Guatemala was settled shortly before 1000 BC. Sometime between 800 and 500 BC, the settlement was reconfigured into a city with an urban grid—a form until now unknown in the Maya lowlands. As a geometric form, grids regiment a series of lines into a harmonious rhythm over a larger area. Urban grids are formed not by single-dimension lines, but by streets, which are public spaces containing traffic, communication, exchange, and social interaction. Thus, urban grids are not simply composed of buildings with matching orientations, but also of streets and avenues and the traffic they contain (form and content), which are coordinated and connected through a shared and legible geometric system of order. Thus, once imposed, a grid is no longer an abstraction, but the new landscape. They standardize space and make it easy to understand, organize, and use. In so doing, grids promote the intensification of internal social interaction as well as interactions with outsiders familiar with its uniformity. Yet, the convenience and legibility of urban grids also help rulers to manage and control a populace.

Cite this Record

The Streets of Nixtun-Ch’ich’, Guatemala. Timothy Pugh. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430910)


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): 14586