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Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya$
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Brett A. Houk, Barbara Arroyo, and Terry G. Powis

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066226

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066226.001.0001

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From Urban Core to Vacant Terrain

From Urban Core to Vacant Terrain

Defining the Heterotopia of Maya Monumental Landscapes at the Crossroads of the Middle Belize River Valley

(p.85) 5 From Urban Core to Vacant Terrain
Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya

Eleanor Harrison-Buck

Mark D. Willis

Chester P. Walker

Satoru Murata

Marieka Brouwer Burg

University Press of Florida

In Chapter 5, Eleanor Harrison-Buck and colleagues describe their use of drones to quickly and economically map roughly 7 km2 of plowed fields at the site of Saturday Creek in the middle Belize River Valley. They argue that Saturday Creek was a central node on the landscape from Preclassic to Colonial times, serving as an important crossroads between east-west and north-south transportation routes. The authors consider the dense settlement around the site core of Saturday Creek to be part of a larger monumental landscape and consider activities taking place in the vacant terrain on the fringes of the peri-urban settlement—what they refer to as the “heterotopia” (borrowing from Foucault). These spaces were separate from the settlement, but integral to its operation and included environments such as the pine ridge that served as an important transportation corridor, vast tracts of wetlands with ditched and drained agricultural fields, and broad floodplains with rich alluvial soils, which were likely places of cacao cultivation. The authors conclude that these “heterotopian” spaces in the monumental landscape are important to consider in settlement studies because they played a vital role in maintaining long-term, dense populations in urban and peri-urban centers like Saturday Creek.

Keywords:   Settlement studies, Peri-urban settlement, Vacant terrain, Heterotopia

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