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Early Maya Ceremonial Architecture at Pacbitun, Belize

  • Terry G. Powis (a1), George J. Micheletti (a2), Kaitlin Crow (a3), Sheldon Skaggs (a4), Norbert Stanchly (a5), Nicaela Cartagena (a6) and Jeffrey A. Powis (a7)...


The development of Middle Preclassic (900–300 BC) ceremonial architecture is receiving more attention by archaeologists conducting research in the Maya Lowlands. Although a few examples have been partially excavated, there is still a dearth of information on how and why monumental constructions were originally built. This is largely because early structures often lie below several layers of sequential architecture, making them difficult to locate. Even when Middle Preclassic architecture is identified, exposure is often too limited to fully investigate its form and function. A well-preserved and accessible Middle Preclassic platform would be a rare find and could greatly enhance our knowledge and understanding of the subject. At Pacbitun, Cayo District, Belize, such a discovery has been made beneath the artificially raised surface of the main plaza. To make the most of this opportunity, five seasons of excavation worked to expose this massive building in its entirety. In this article, we provide details concerning the structural design of the platform and its abandonment, as well as present potential architectural comparisons. We conclude by reevaluating complexity at Pacbitun.

El desarrollo de la arquitectura ceremonial del Preclásico medio (900-300 aC) está recibiendo más atención por parte de los arqueólogos que realizan investigaciones en las tierras bajas mayas. Sin embargo, todavía es escasa la información acerca de cómo y por qué se construyeron originalmente las estructuras monumentales. Esto se debe, en gran parte, al hecho de que las estructuras tempranas a menudo se encuentran debajo de varias capas de arquitectura secuencial, lo que dificulta su localización. Incluso cuando se identifica una gran plataforma del Preclásico medio, las excavaciones, en general, solo proporcionan una pequeña visión de ella y la exposición es demasiado limitada para investigar completamente su forma y función general. En consecuencia, una plataforma del Preclásico medio bien conservada y accesible sería un hallazgo excepcional y podría mejorar enormemente nuestro conocimiento y comprensión del tema. En Pacbitun (Belice) se ha realizado el hallazgo de una estructura debajo de la superficie artificialmente elevada de la plaza principal del sitio. Para exponer este enorme edificio en su totalidad, se llevaron a cabo cinco temporadas de excavación, exponiendo gradualmente una gran plataforma ceremonial. En este trabajo se proporcionan detalles sobre el diseño estructural de la plataforma y el método de abandono. Asimismo, se exponen posibles comparaciones y se reevalúa la complejidad en Pacbitun.


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Early Maya Ceremonial Architecture at Pacbitun, Belize

  • Terry G. Powis (a1), George J. Micheletti (a2), Kaitlin Crow (a3), Sheldon Skaggs (a4), Norbert Stanchly (a5), Nicaela Cartagena (a6) and Jeffrey A. Powis (a7)...


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