Preclassic Settlement Hierarchy at Xcoch in the Puuc Region of Yucatan

Author(s): Michael Smyth

Year: 2018


Some of the earliest and largest monumental architecture in the Puuc Hills are found at the Maya center of Xcoch. Noted by John Stephens in 1841 as a large city with a deep water cave and gigantic pyramid, Xcoch is among a host of Puuc sites now dated to the Preclassic period. An interdisciplinary research program at Xcoch and vicinity from 2006 to 2013 revealed Preclassic Maya community patterns, megalithic architecture, and material culture for a developing complex society. Massive high building platforms, numerous stone pyramids and plazas, heavy stone habitation structures, and an internal site causeway connecting the large Gondola Aguada to the Xcoch grotto are among the many Preclassic settlement features extending across nearly 3 sq km. This paper examines Preclassic settlement patterns at Xcoch and its role as a regional center for the central Santa Elena plain and the greater Puuc region. Other Preclassic sites show mounting evidence for early megalithic architecture and formative ceramics supporting the presence of a multi-tiered hierarchy within Xcoch's immediate settlement orbit. These data suggest that Xcoch was a stratified society at the center of a formative regional settlement hierarchy centuries before the apogee of the world heritage site of Uxmal.

Cite this Record

Preclassic Settlement Hierarchy at Xcoch in the Puuc Region of Yucatan. Michael Smyth. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444261)

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): 20824