Desperate Times, Distinctive Places: Human Landscape Interaction at Tzak Naab, Belize

Author(s): Eric Heller; Anastasia Kotsoglou

Year: 2017


Located in northwestern Belize, the ancient Maya site of Tzak Naab lay at the intersection of an urban polity and vital agricultural space during the Terminal Classic, a period of considerable ecological and economic stress. The monumental architecture of the site strays from regional grammars with an atypical spatial syntax that emphasizes a connection to an adjacent bajo, a seasonally inundated wetland significant to the regional political economy. Attention to site planning and experiential aspects of place suggest that Tzak Naab served as a nexus for community ritual practices related to agricultural fecundity. By contextualizing the site within the greater political

landscape—and critically evaluating the degrees of difference in built environments as well as the object assemblages—this paper demonstrates that localized cosmology is capable of permeating the material milieu. We argue that the idiosyncrasies present at Tzak Naab constitute meaningful and distinctive choices that represent a transformation in the religious and ritual priorities of a community negotiating the anxieties of changing environmental conditions.

Cite this Record

Desperate Times, Distinctive Places: Human Landscape Interaction at Tzak Naab, Belize. Eric Heller, Anastasia Kotsoglou. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430913)


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): 15141