Using Landscape to Unbuild Binaries: Human-Environment Relationships at Aventura, Belize

Author(s): Kacey Grauer

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Dividing the landscape into the categories of natural and cultural clouds an understanding of the relationship between humans and their ecological environment. Humans are not separate from or above the landscape they inhabit, and landscape archaeology is well-situated to address arbitrary binaries that reinforce problematic notions about human-environment relationships. In this paper, I confront two binaries associated with urban landscapes: inside/outside and built/unbuilt. At the ancient Maya city of Aventura, the landscape is characterized by seasonally wet karstic depressions known as pocket bajos. Pocket bajos are both inside and outside of the city. Some are surrounded by temple complexes, directly abutting monumental architecture and households, while others stretch to areas with little or no settlement. Pocket bajos are also both built and unbuilt. In some areas pocket bajo edges were modified by humans, while in other locations, their form was determined by water and erosion. Using data from pedestrian survey and excavation, I demonstrate that the pocket bajos at Aventura offer a way to go beyond a division of natural and cultural landscapes. Doing so is not only important for understanding human-environment relationships in the past, but for reflecting on our inextricable connection to the ecological environment in the present.

Cite this Record

Using Landscape to Unbuild Binaries: Human-Environment Relationships at Aventura, Belize. Kacey Grauer. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450347)

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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): 25837