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MAYA SACBEOB: Form and function

  • Justine M. Shaw (a1)

Abstract

This article reviews currently available data on Lowland Maya sacbeob (raised roadways) to create a tripartite system of road classification and explore why the Maya built such constructions. Rather than simply classify sacbeob as “intrasite” or “intersite,” roads are divided into “local intrasite,” “core–outlier intrasite,” and “intersite” based on length and function. This classification system is then employed on a data set of 190 sacbeob to explore the degree to which it may have been some sort of a reality for the ancient Maya. The practical and symbolic aspects of roadways are also discussed, with the aim of beginning to explain why sacbeob are present at some sites while absent at others. Possibilities from environmental to temporal variation are reviewed, as are the ways in which plazas may or may not have been able to substitute for constructed routes. The Inka road system is also briefly summarized to provide an analogy to better understand Maya systems. Finally, an appeal is made to researchers to view sacbeob not as a single type of artifact, but as a class of features with a range of types and functions.

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MAYA SACBEOB: Form and function

  • Justine M. Shaw (a1)

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