Pathways and the Power of Organizational Process: Defining Polity at Wari Camp, Belize


The ancient Maya community of Wari Camp was organized into a quincunx pattern of four quarters delineated by the intersection of two inter-cardinal alignments. One was formed by a series of "temple-on-the-east" groups running northwest to southeast. The other consisted of a massive, northeast-to-southwest trending drainage modified for foot traffic. At their intersection stood an uncarved stela. Other stelae marked crossroads, while pairs of temple groups stood at entrances into the drainage road proper.

Michael Coe was the first to link the four-quarter scheme with Maya ritual practices celebrating the spatio-temporal limits of community. Other researchers demonstrated how such practices were essential rituals of royalty, some even noting the prominence of processional circuits among temple pairs. Still others pointed to the quincunx – the sign for road in Maya glyphs – as a fundamental trope in Maya thought and expression.

At Wari Camp, therefore, we have a confluence of material images that speak to some of the ways in which the most basic of Maya political units was constituted in symbol and action. This paper will attempt a deeper exploration of the powers inhering in such places, and will argue for the need to better identify them archaeologically.

Cite this Record

Pathways and the Power of Organizational Process: Defining Polity at Wari Camp, Belize. Laura Levi, Christian Sheumaker, Sarah Boudreaux. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442586)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21596