Entangled: The Shifting Networks that Linked the Classic Maya of Belize’s Mopan Valley to Adjacent Regions

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

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Making and Breaking Boundaries in the Maya Lowlands: Alliance and Conflict across the Guatemala–Belize Border" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Some Mayanists have eschewed the notion that Classic Maya polities were territorially based, arguing instead that they were constituted through networks of political alliances that were continually reinforced through gifting, diplomacy, and warfare. That idea is our springboard for examining the changing ways in which the Classic-period kingdoms of Belize’s Mopan River Valley—Buenavista del Cayo, Xunantunich, and Las Ruinas de Arenal—were entangled in broader political, social, and economic networks that were activated and materialized through the flow of people, objects, and ideas. These flows connected the rulers of these kingdoms to larger powers outside the valley, particularly Tikal, Caracol, and Naranjo—in relationships that varied from antagonistic to collaborative. Some flows penetrated deeper into Mopan Valley society, engaging non-royal elites and commoners as well. Furthermore, although we often focus on hierarchical, top-down flows, other networks were horizontal in nature, creating links between individuals and communities across the broader region. We sketch these various networks, highlight how they changed over time, and discuss how they inextricably linked the Mopan Valley of western Belize into larger dynamics of what is today the eastern Peten and western Belize.

Cite this Record

Entangled: The Shifting Networks that Linked the Classic Maya of Belize’s Mopan Valley to Adjacent Regions. Jason Yaeger, M. Kathryn Brown. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451051)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -95.032; min lat: 15.961 ; max long: -86.506; max lat: 21.861 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25340