More so than any other area of the eastern lowlands, southern Belize developed a distinctive regional tradition, influenced by its geographical isolation. The major sites in the region share common urban planning and architectural traits not seen in other parts of Belize. Following a description of the natural setting of southern Belize, this chapter discusses the four largest and best-documented sites in the region–Pusilhá, Uxbenka, Lubaantun, and Nim Li Punit. Southern Belize is notable for the high frequency of carved monuments, the small stela plazas, and the curious lack of textual reference to neighboring cities. Another important characteristic of the region is that the major cities lacked Preclassic antecedent architecture, as the region apparently was not heavily settled until the Early Classic period. Southern Belize, isolated and unique, is atypical when stacked along side the rest of the eastern lowlands in terms of chronology, architecture, use of stelae, settlement patterning, and concepts of city building.
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