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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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A Discussion of Early Monumentality at Pacbitun, Belize

A Discussion of Early Monumentality at Pacbitun, Belize

(p.268) 13 A Discussion of Early Monumentality at Pacbitun, Belize
Approaches to Monumental Landscapes of the Ancient Maya

Terry G. Powis

George J. Micheletti

Jon Spenard

Sheldon Skaggs

University Press of Florida

Powis and his colleagues have gathered significant information about the Middle Preclassic period at Pacbitun, data which speak to the broader subject of architectural monumentality. In Chapter 13, they present two specific case studies pertaining to Pacbitun’s Plaza A architecture. In the first case study, the authors’ discussion begins with the low residential/workshop platforms of Plaza B, an area well-recognized for its marine shell bead craft production, and the naturally elevated area to the east of Plaza B, where the large ceremonial structure of El Quemado was built on the highest point that would later become Plaza A. Unlike any structure previously built at Pacbitun, the presence of El Quemado implies an ability to organize a significant labor force and perhaps marks the beginning of institutionalized inequality. An apparent termination event in the form of chopped corners, extensive burning, and subsequent burial marks an important transition in the organization and ideology of Pacbitun’s society at the onset of the Late Preclassic period. Succinctly, the case studies in this chapter both demonstrate that monumentality refers to more than architectural scale. The labor force, energy, and resources needed to construct El Quemado and the E Group would have greatly surpassed what was needed to build contemporary domestic structures.

Keywords:   Middle Preclassic period, Pacbitun, El Quemado, E Group, Late Preclassic period

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