Early Onset Anthropocene. Control of the Landscape by the ancient Maya in Northwestern Belize.

Authors: Thomas Guderjan*, University of Texas At Tyler
Topics: Middle America
Keywords: Maya, archaeology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Using LiDAR, terrestrial survey and archaeological excavations, we have identified large-scale and multi-purpose landscape modifications by the Classic period Maya, generally AD 100-800, in northwest Belize. Not surprisingly, these include construction of kawiks, or central places with pyramids, plazas, and images of power. Additionally, these modifications include large numbers of residential building exhibiting evidence of multiple social strata and spatially demarcated by linear piles of stones bounding individual houselots. This discovery causes us to rethink the scale and complexity of Maya settlement systems and land tenure. Additionally, terracing and other cross-channel constructions are found on hill-slopes and platforms and ditched agricultural fields are found on the bases of hills. Taken together, these features show that ancient Maya completely transformed their natural environment into a built landscape over which, they had complete control.

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