Monthly Meeting


When: Tuesday, October 17th, 2017, 7:30 PM
Where: The Albuquerque Museum, 2000 Mountain Rd NW

Cities of the Jungle: Ancient Maya Community Organization and Urban Development in the Southeastern Maya Lowlands, Belize, Central America

Amy E. Thompson

The Ancient Maya resided in populated cities that covered vast areas of Central America. Peaking during the Classic Period (AD 250-800), these diverse communities were composed of several social classes from kings and priests to artisans and farmers. This presentation focuses on the gradual processes of urban development and sociopolitical organization at two Classic Period Maya centers, Uxbenká and Ix Kuku’il, located in the southern foothills of the Maya Mountains, Toledo District, Belize. Extensive on-the-ground survey, aided by state-of-the-art remote sensing techniques, recorded ancient Maya houses to understand the geospatial distribution of households across the larger landscape. The locations of households were compared with various resources, such as a water source and high quality agricultural lands, to address which factors favorably influenced where they lived on the landscape. Finally, chronological data, including ceramics types and high-precision radiocarbon dates, inform the occupational sequence of each household. Furthermore, geostatistical analyses suggest that Uxbenká’s community was divided into spatially and socially defined neighborhoods, while Ix Kuku’il’s house-holds were more evenly distributed across the landscape. Combined, these data shed light on the processes of urban development and community organization in the Maya region.

Amy Thompson is working toward her doctorate degree in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. Her research focuses on social and environmental factors that influenced settlement location choices at two Classic Period Maya centers, Uxbenká and Ix Kuku’il, located in southern Belize. Her first field school was in northern Belize in 2007, and she has conducted research in the southern Belize region since 2008.  Since then she has also participated in archaeological research in Romania, Alaska, and Hawaii. Ms. Thompson’s research in southern Belize has been funded by the National Science Foundation, New York Explorers Club, and the University of New Mexico.

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