Classic Maya Urban Settlement Dynamics: Planning and Mobility Introduced

Author(s): Damien Marken; Charlotte Arnauld

Year: 2018


Following decades of debate, most scholars accept Classic Maya cities as the hearts of spatially expansive, low-density urban settlements. This introductory paper will summarize past and current perceptions of Maya urbanism, emphasizing potentially overshadowed considerations of urban planning, mobility, and community dynamics – fundamental cross-cultural features of urbanization – and their detection in lowland settlement patterns.

The recent florescence of research deriving insight from urban theory has been positive as it reminds scholars that Maya cities were urban phenomena, not simply political capitals, and must be treated as such. But the trend to emphasize monumentality in urban layout continues, to the near exclusion of other processes critical to urbanization, such as mobility, neighborhood community building, and resource management. There is a strong need for increased residential excavations across Classic urban landscapes, and we should be prepared to develop audacious programs following recent LiDAR surveys. Maya urbanism was a complex mesh of social, economic, ritual, and political networks, balanced between potentially conflicting household and social group loyalties, resulting in changing urban structures through time and space. It will require a long-term disciplinary commitment to household and neighborhood excavations to fully uncover the temporal and regional dynamics of Classic Maya urban systems.

Cite this Record

Classic Maya Urban Settlement Dynamics: Planning and Mobility Introduced. Damien Marken, Charlotte Arnauld. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443634)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20607