The Construction of Interpolity Sociopolitical Identity Through Architecture at the Ancient Maya Site of Blue Creek, Belize

Part of the Blue Creek Central Precinct project

Author(s): William Driver

Year: 2008


This dissertation examines the design variation present in the ritual and domestic architecture of the Maya site of Blue Creek, Belize, in an attempt to understand how differences in architectural style may have been linked to the construction of local, intra-community sociopolitical identities within this ancient Maya community. The study employs a practice-based, technological style theoretical perspective which views all material culture style, including that of architecture and the built environment, as the product of systems of technical processes and techniques of production and use. As a consequence of this view, the approach further argues that discontinuities in material cultural styles represent breaks in the traditions of technological practices, and thus can serve as markers of various social boundaries. To look for such discontinuities, a

descriptive grammar was first constructed from the architectural data provided by

excavations conducted in the civic center of Blue Creek, a medium-sized site located in

northwest Belize. This grammar was then compared to the architectural data recovered

from excavations conducted at three formal alpha groups selected from different settlement zones located around the site center.

The results of the study indicate that while the majority of architectural style at Blue Creek is attributable to community-wide design practices, differential patterns of style are evident in the substructural façades of temples and shrines located in the site core and in each of the surrounding settlement zones. The dissertation argues that the presence of these micro-styles is consistent with expectations based on an integrated corporate community model similar to that derived at Copan (Fash 1983; Freter 1994, 2004; Hendon 1987, 1991; Sanders 1989), in which semi-autonomous, ranked kin-based corporate groups (Hayden and Cannon 1982) are arranged in complex heterarchical and hierarchical sociopolitical interaction networks.

Cite this Record

The Construction of Interpolity Sociopolitical Identity Through Architecture at the Ancient Maya Site of Blue Creek, Belize. William Driver. 2008 ( tDAR id: 6424) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8K64GC1

Spatial Coverage

min long: -88.888; min lat: 17.868 ; max long: -88.848; max lat: 17.897 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Stephen Reichardt

Project Director(s): thomas guderjan

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