Building a Maya Boomtown: Architectural Decisions within an Environmental Frontier
Dr. Meaghan Peuramaki-Brown, Athabasca University
There is no shortage of architectural studies focused on the form, placement, construction, and style of impressive, corbel-vaulted, limestone buildings of the ancient Maya heartland of the Yucatan Peninsula. The study of such features has the potential to inform us on issues of socio-cultural identity, socio-political networks, socio-economic organization, environmental sustainability, etc. But what of the architecture in environmental, socio-cultural, political, and economic frontier zones of the ancient Maya world? The first half of this presentation will introduce you to the ancient Maya and the townsite of Alabama—located in such a frontier zone—in the modern Stann Creek District of Belize, Central America, and will summarize the recently published argument in support of its Late to Terminal Classic boom (ca. 700-900 CE). The second half of the presentation will walk you through the archaeological and geological survey; archaeological testing and excavation; macroscopic, microscopic, and petrographic material studies; and community outreach/experimental archaeology we have engaged in order to document and interpret material patterns of architectural—both monumental (collective memory and temporal linkages) and the vernacular (everyday life)—decision making at this ancient boomtown, and what such decisions may tell us regarding ancient lifeways along a frontier of the Maya world.
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