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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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Caracol’s Impact on the Landscape of the Classic Period Maya

Caracol’s Impact on the Landscape of the Classic Period Maya

Urbanism and Complex Interaction in a Tropical Environment

(p.109) 6 Caracol’s Impact on the Landscape of the Classic Period Maya
Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya

Diane Z. Chase

Arlen F. Chase

Adrian S. Z. Chase

University Press of Florida

Diane Chase and colleagues discuss one of the largest Classic-period Maya sites that ever existed, Caracol, Belize, in Chapter 6. Using over 30 years of data from the site, the authors examine four components of Caracol’s monumental landscape: the site’s plazuela groups, its causeway system, its reservoir system, and its agricultural terraces. Extensive excavation, mapping, and LiDAR data demonstrate that Caracol’s expansive territory was a heavily modified landscape, with considerable evidence for centralized planning. Mapped onto this planned landscape at Caracol is evidence for economic integration and centrally directed social engineering in the form of “symbolic egalitarianism.” As large and populous as Caracol was, it is not surprising that the city’s rulers extended their influence beyond the kingdom’s immediate territory and onto the larger geopolitical landscape of the Late Classic period. Chase and colleagues broaden the concept of monumentality to consider strategic political nodes on the landscape and inter-polity interactions on a truly regional scale. The authors close their chapter with a consideration of the roles of human decision making and climate change in the final abandonment of the kingdom.

Keywords:   Caracol, Plazuela groups, Causeway system, Late Classic period, LiDAR, Symbolic egalitarianism, Geopolitical landscape, Climate change, Inter-polity interactions

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