Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-lm8cj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-10T14:40:47.177Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2006

Thomas H. Guderjan
Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Anthropology, TCU Box 298760, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129, USA


The identity of the Classic Maya was expressed through public architecture and the creation of sacred landscape, which incorporated the landscape of creation and the concept of the world tree. Pyramids, plazas, stelae, and ballcourts were important components of this landscape. In the Peten, architectural complexes known as “E-groups” were another component. E-groups are well-known astronomical “orientation calendars” that were first built in the Terminal Preclassic period. Named after Group E at Uaxactun, they consist of three buildings on the east side of a public plaza and a fourth in the middle of the plaza or on the west side. Terminal Preclassic E-groups functioned as solstice and equinox markers. However, their function changed in the Early Classic period, arguably due to influence from Teotihuacan, to a focus on agricultural seasons. In this paper, I argue that pseudo–E-groups were built well into the Late Classic period in the eastern Peten and were a defining architectural complex for the region. The original, functional Terminal Preclassic E-groups were based on ritual activities focused on solar events. By the Early Classic, E-groups had become multipurpose parts of the sacred landscape of public architecture. Late Classic pseudo–E-groups, however, had become nonfunctional for either solar or agriculturally oriented observation. Nevertheless, they had become so deeply embedded into the template of sacred space and architecture that pseudo–E–groups were constructed to reinforce the identity of cities and the validity of their rulers.

Research Article
© 2006 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Aimers, James John 1993 Messages from the Gods: A Hermeneutic Analysis of the Maya E-Group Complex. M.A. thesis, Trent University, Peterborough, Canada.
Aveni, Anthony F., and Horst Hartung 1989 Uaxactun, Guatemala, Group E and Similar Assemblages: An Archaeoastronomical Reconsideration. In World Archaeology, edited by Anthony F. Aveni, pp. 441461. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge .
Aveni, Anthony F., and Horst Hartung 2000 Water, Mountain, and Sky: The Evolution of Site Orientations in Southeastern Mesoamerica. In Chalchihuitl, in Quetzalcoatl, edited by Eloise Quinones Kebler, pp. 5562. Labyrinthos, Lancaster, CA.
Aveni, Anthony F., Anne S. Dowd, and Benjamin Vining 2003 Maya Calendar Reform? Evidence from Orientations of Specialized Architectural Assemblages. Latin American Antiquity 14(2):159179.Google Scholar
Ball, Joseph W. 1993 Potters, Palaces, and Polities: Some Socioeconomic and Political Interpretations of Late Classic Maya Ceramic Industries. In Lowland Maya Civilization in the Eighth Century A.D., edited by Jeremy Sabloff and John Henderson, pp. 243272. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC.
Bozarth, Steven R., and Thomas H. Guderjan 2004 Biosilicate Analysis of Residue in Maya Dedicatory Cache Vessels from Blue Creek, Belize. Journal of Archaeological Science 31(2):205215.Google Scholar
Chase, Arlen F., and Diane Z. Chase 1995 External Impetus, Internal Synthesis, and Standardization: E-Group Assemblages and the Crystallization of Classic Maya Society in the Southern Lowlands. Acta Mesoamerica 8:87101.Google Scholar
Driver, W. David, and Phil Wanyerka 2002 Creation Symbolism in the Architecture and Ritual at Structure 3, Blue Creek, Belize. Mexicon 24(1):68.Google Scholar
Ford, Owen 1998 Excavations in the Ballcourt. In The 1997 Season of the Chan Chich Archaeological Project, edited by Brett A. Houk, pp. 5358. Center for Maya Studies, San Antonio, TX.
Guderjan, Thomas H. 1991 Maya Settlement in Northwestern Belize: The 1988 and 1990 Seasons of the Rio Bravo Archaeological Project. Labyrinthos, Lancaster, CA.
Guderjan, Thomas H. 2002 A Decade of Research at Blue Creek. In The Blue Creek Project: Working Papers from the 1998 and 1999 Seasons, edited by Thomas H. Guderjan and Robert J. Lichtenstein, pp. 336. Maya Research Program, Fort Worth, TX.
Guderjan, Thomas H. 2004a Recreating the Maya Cosmos. Continuity and Change: Maya Religious Practices and Temporal Perspective. Acta Mesoamerica 14:3339.Google Scholar
Guderjan, Thomas H. 2004b Public Architecture, Ritual and Temporal Dynamics at the Maya Site of Blue Creek, Belize. Ancient Mesoamerica 15(2):235249.Google Scholar
Guderjan, Thomas H. 2006 Nature of an Ancient Maya City: Resources, Interaction and Power at Blue Creek, Belize. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, in press.
Guderjan, Thomas H., Jeffery Baker, and Robert J. Lichtenstein 2003 Environmental and Cultural Diversity at Blue Creek. In Heterarchy, Political Economy and the Ancient Maya, edited by Vernon L. Scarborough, Fred Valdez Jr., and Nicholas Dunning, pp. 7791. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Guderjan, Thomas H., Robert J. Lichtenstein, and C. Colleen Hanratty 2003 Elite Residences at Blue Creek, Belize. In Maya Palaces and Elite Residences, edited by J.J. Christie, pp. 1345. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Healy, Paul F., Bobbie Hohman, and Terry G. Powis 2004 The Ancient Maya Center of Pacbitun. In The Ancient Maya of the Belize Valley: Half a Century of Archaeological Research, edited by James F. Garber, pp. 207227. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
Houk, Brett A. 1997 Drawing the Line: Site Plans and Cultural Boundaries in Northwest Belize. Paper presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Nashville, TN.
Houk, Brett A. 1998 The 1997 Season of the Chan Chich Archaeological Project. Center for Maya Studies, San Antonio, TX.
Houk, Brett A. 2000 The 1998 and 1999 Seasons of the Chan Chich Archaeological Project. Center for Maya Studies, San Antonio, TX.
Houk, Brett A. 2002 The Ties That Bind: Site Planning in the Three Rivers Region. In Heterarchy, Political Economy, and the Ancient Maya: The Three Rivers Region of the East–Central Yucatan Peninsula, edited by Vernon L. Scarborough, Fred Valdez Jr., and Nicholas Dunning. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
Houk, Brett A., and Hubert Robichaux 1997 The 1996 Season of the Chan Chich Archaeological Project. Center for Maya Studies, San Antonio, TX.
LaPorte, Juan Pedro, and Vilma Fialko 1990 New Perspectives on Old Problems: Dynastic References for the Early Classic at Tikal. In Vision and Revision in Maya Studies, edited by Flora Clancy and Peter Harrison, pp. 3366. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Mathews, Jennifer P., and James F. Garber 2004 Models of Cosmic Order: Physical Expression of Sacred Space among the Ancient Maya. Ancient Mesoamerica 15(1):4959.Google Scholar
Mock, Shirley B. 1997 Monkey Business at the Northern River Lagoon: A Coastal–Inland Interaction Sphere in Northern Belize. Ancient Mesoamerica 8(2):165184.Google Scholar
Reilly, F. Kent 1995 Art, Ritual and Rulership in the Olmec World. In The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership, edited by Jill Guthrie, pp. 2744. Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ.
Rice, Prudence 2004 Maya Political Science: Time, Astronomy and the Cosmos. University of Texas, Austin.
Ricketson, Oliver, Jr. 1928 Astronomical Observatories in the Maya Area. The Geographical Review 18(2):215229.Google Scholar
Robichaux, Hubert R. 1998 Excavations in the Upper Plaza. In The 1997 Season of the Chan Chich Archaeological Project, edited by Brett A. Houk, pp. 3152. Center for Maya Studies, San Antonio, TX.
Roys, Ralph L. 1954 The Political Geography of the Yucatec Maya. Carnegie Institute of Washington, Washington, DC.
Ruppert, Karl 1940 A Special Assemblage of Maya Structures. In The Maya and Their Neighbors: Essays on Middle American Anthropology and Archaeology, edited by Ralph Linton, Harry Shapiro, and George Vaillant, pp. 222231. D. Appleton-Century, New York.
Savoie, Greg 2004 The Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Maya E-Group Complexes. M.A. thesis, Department of Archaeology, University of Leicester.
Thompson, J. Eric S. 1939 Excavations at San Jose, British Honduras. Carnegie Institute of Washington, Washington, DC.