The enigma of S19 : a multidisciplinary case study of water management strategies and settlement chronology of an ancient Maya household in the Buenavista Valley of Guatemala

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Date

2022-12-02

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Baldwin, James Dennis

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Abstract

The revolution in remote sensing of the Maya area led by recent advancements in the use of lidar has led to the discovery of a multitude of new infrastructural features that begin to reveal the true extent, scale, and complexity of ancient Maya investments in landesque capital. While large-scale investments in hydrologic infrastructure in the ancient urban core areas of El Zotz and nearby Bejucal were known and have been subject to a great deal of archaeological and geoarchaeological investigation. Unknown were subtle, small-scale, examples of hydrologic infrastructure in peripheral areas of the region outside of the aforementioned urban core areas. These were discovered using lidar data generated by the Pacunam Lidar Initiative (PLI). Examples of features discovered through the analysis of lidar data include potential dams, reservoirs, and canals. These manifestations of landesque capital are furthermore located in the upland areas of a landscape that contains lowland agricultural wetland complexes as well. Building on previous scholarship on Maya hydrologic infrastructure, this paper examines the implication of one such feature and its associated settlement group on the wider landscape. Given their differing positions in the socio-political landscape, this paper explores the potential significance of such small-scale hydrologic features on the cultural and political landscape of the ancient Maya in comparison to their counterparts in more central areas of the ancient political landscape.

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