Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xi

List of Tables

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p. xii

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Foreword

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pp. xiii-xiv

During the Pre-Columbian era, the Eastern Maya Lowlands housed a populous network of Maya cities and towns, which are now mostly shrouded beneath the jungle canopy or farmlands of the modern Caribbean nation of Belize. In this book, author Brett Houk puts back together the pieces of the...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xviii

Like many archaeological endeavors, the idea for this book involved beer. While we sat in the hotel bar at end of a long day of papers at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, California, Marilyn Masson asked if I would be interested in writing a book about Maya cities...

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1. Ancient Maya Urbanism in the Eastern Lowlands

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pp. 1-12

This book is about the ancient cities of the eastern Maya lowlands—roughly corresponding to the modern nation of Belize—the area between the Caribbean Sea and the Petén region of Guatemala (Figure 1.1). It is not only about how old the cities are and what they looked like; it is also about how the Maya...

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2. Studying Maya Cities

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pp. 13-45

There are many possible ways to tackle the topic of Maya cities. This book takes a decidedly site-centric approach by focusing on the monumental precincts of the eastern lowland cities at the expense of their hinterland settlement areas. This chapter begins by describing the analytical approach applied...

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3. The Setting in Space and Time

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pp. 46-68

This chapter is directed primarily at the non–Maya scholar reading this book; it provides a crash course on the geography of the Maya area, Maya cultural history (Table 3.1), and Classic period Maya political history. In many textbooks, the latter two topics are blended together, but they are separated...

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4. Preclassic Foundations

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pp. 69-83

Although the focus of this book is Classic period cities, the Preclassic developments in what is now Belize warrant discussion as they provided the basis for the architectural and planning innovations that followed (see Figure 1.2). Some of the best evidence for the origins of settled village life, a precursor...

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5. Southern Belize

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pp. 84-118

More so than any other area of the eastern lowlands, southern Belize developed a distinctive regional tradition. As Richard Leventhal (1990:138) observed, the region’s geographical isolation contributed to greater “internal homogeneity and external heterogeneity” with respect to architecture and...

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6. Vaca Plateau and Maya Mountains

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pp. 119-146

Separated from southern Belize by the rugged Maya Mountains lies the karstic landscape of the Vaca Plateau (see Figure 5.1). The southern part of the plateau served as the stage for the remarkable development of Caracol, easily the largest Maya settlement in the eastern lowlands. This chapter presents Caracol...

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7. Belize Valley

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pp. 147-167

A number of factors, including access to modern creature comforts, have made the Belize Valley the most intensively studied area in the country (see Garber 2004:12). During the summers it is impossible to throw a stick without hitting an archaeologist or archaeology student in San Ignacio. Since Gordon...

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8. Northwestern Belize

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pp. 168-200

Aside from perhaps the Belize Valley, no area of Belize has been as inundated by archaeologists as the northwestern corner of the country since 1992 (Figure 8.1). The Maya Research Program and the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project (PfBAP) have been conducting research in the area for over...

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9. Northern Belize

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pp. 201-231

East and north of the Bravo Hills land region lie northern Belize and the Northern Coastal Plain land region (King et al. 1992:35). What northern Belize lacks in scenic beauty—unless you consider sugar cane fields, scrub forests, and swamps to be scenic—it makes up for in important...

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10. Comparisons and Urban Planning

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pp. 232-264

This chapter treats the cities covered by this book as a group to highlight various aspects of urban planning in the eastern lowlands. The discussion begins by comparing the cities to illuminate similarities and differences. A major component of this is evaluating the sizes of sites, a task that is more...

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11. Deciphering Meaning in Maya Cities

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pp. 265-284

An alternate title for this chapter could easily be “Why Do Maya Cities Look the Way They Look?,” as the word “meaning” is vague and prone to multiple interpretations. Identifying planning principles in Maya cities is one thing, but understanding the meaning behind the plans is another. As will become...

References Cited

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pp. 285-326

Index

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pp. 327-343

About the Author, About the Series, Other Works in the Series

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