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Agro-urban landscapes: the example of Maya lowland cities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Christian Isendahl*
Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Box 626, SE-751 26 Uppsala, Sweden (Email:


The author sets out to explain why Maya cities are so dispersed, with a ceremonial core surrounded by spacious neighbourhoods. Using the case study of Xuch, and the judicious application of phosphate analysis, he shows that these were clusters of farmsteads, growing food. Tackling the apparent confrontation of town and country in the same settlement he urges us to reconsider ‘urbanism’ as being too narrow a term in archaeology. Solutions that combine food production and ritual can be seen as increasingly diverse. The paper provides valuable reflections for archaeologists studying settlement evolution the world over.

Research article
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd. 2012

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