Urbanism and Ancient Maya Neighborhoods: Social and Spatial Organization

Scott Hutson (University of Kentucky)

Novelists, philosophers, and social scientists have highlighted negative aspects of urbanism, yet cities have thrived for nearly 5,000 years. The existence of neighborhoods helps explain this since neighborhoods afford pockets of familiarity and networks of trust among a landscape of anonymous and potentially hostile strangers. Neighborhoods are also important because they often serve as administrative units intermediate between households and central authorities. Exploring neighborhoods among ancient Maya cities has been difficult because neighborhoods generally elude researchers. Archaeological features at the urban center of Chunchucmil, however, permit the first successful attempt to detect neighborhoods across an entire large Maya city. This presentation presents methods for finding neighborhoods and reflects on how their size, function, and composition changes our understanding of ancient Maya politics.

*co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Studies

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