Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 March 2008
In this chapter we refer to the Maya highlands and Pacific coastal plain collectively as the southern Maya Area (see Map 10.1). We follow the chronological framework most commonly used by Mesoamerican scholars, beginning with the Preclassic era (c. 2000 b.c. to a.d. 250; for earlier developments, see Zeitland and Zeitland, Chap. 2, this volume), subdivided into the Early Preclassic (c. 2000–1000 b.c.), Middle Preclassic (c. 1000–400 b.c.), and Late Preclassic (c. 400 b.c.–a.d. 100); a transitional Terminal Preclassic (c. a.d. 100–250), the subsequent Classic period (c. a.d. 250–800), subdivided into two eras, the Early Classic (c. a.d. 250– 600), and Late Classic (c. a.d. 600–800); and ending with the Postclassic (c. a.d. 900–1500), subdivided into the Early Postclassic (c. 900–1200) and Late Postclassic (c. 1200–1500).
Archaeological research in the southern Maya Area has long lagged behind that conducted in the Maya lowlands to the north. Over the past two decades, however, research and publications dealing with the southern area have begun to correct this disparity. Nonetheless, spatial and temporal coverage remains inconsistent. Most of the work on the Early and Middle Preclassic has been concentrated along the Pacific Coast (especially in the western sector). Research on the Late Preclassic period has received more attention, and there is a broader coverage, most notably focusing on the regional developments in the southern highlands (especially Kaminaljuyu), the southeast, and along the Pacific coastal plain.