Integrating Generations on the Formative Maya Landscape: Households and Communities at Tzacauil

Author(s): Chelsea Fisher

Year: 2017


Many Maya centers owe their longevity to the long-term persistence of their households, which were integrated as continuous social units throughout multiple generations. Yet how did the integration of the multigenerational Maya household first emerge? I address this question through the lens of the early farming village of Tzacauil, Yucatán, Mexico. In the Late Formative period (250 BC – AD 250)—the era in which Tzacauil was occupied and abandoned—people in the Maya area began using stone to construct their houses. Houses could outlive their builders for the first time in Maya history. This investment in permanence was tied to increased reliance on gardening and agriculture, and with it, a growing commitment to improving and claiming the landscape over multiple generations. In this paper I discuss the early integration—and later disintegration—of multigenerational households using data collected from house group excavations, LiDAR, and survey at Tzacauil. Three aims of this paper are: 1) to interpret differences in Tzacauil house groups’ spatial organization as variable investment in multigenerational integration; 2) to move beyond physical houses to address how entire landscapes were integrated by household efforts; and 3) to question why the Tzacauil community ultimately disintegrated.

Cite this Record

Integrating Generations on the Formative Maya Landscape: Households and Communities at Tzacauil. Chelsea Fisher. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431318)


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): 15918