The Shifting Political Landscape of the Mopan Valley: A Diachronic Perspective

Author(s): M. Kathryn Brown; Jason Yaeger

Year: 2018


The Mopan River valley of Belize is home to five closely spaced Lowland Maya ceremonial centers with extensive settlement occupying the landscape between. From south to north, the ceremonial centers are Arenal, Early Xunantunich, Classic Xunantunich, Actuncan, and Buenavista del Cayo. Archaeological evidence suggests that each of these centers was initially occupied by the Middle Preclassic, but they had distinct histories, evolving into ceremonial/political centers at different times, from the Middle Preclassic to the Late Classic. Additionally, the decline, collapse and eventual abandonment of these ceremonial centers occurred at different times and with varying impact on nearby hinterland communities. In this paper we present archaeological data from the Mopan Valley in order to place the site of Actuncan within this regional history. In doing so, we highlight the changing political organization of the Mopan valley, as political authority became more centralized and the institutions of divine kingship developed, flourished, and eventually collapsed.

Cite this Record

The Shifting Political Landscape of the Mopan Valley: A Diachronic Perspective. M. Kathryn Brown, Jason Yaeger. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443816)

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): 22134