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Classic to Postclassic at Ek Balam, Yucatan: Architectural and Ceramic Evidence for Defining the Transition

  • George J. Bey (a1), Craig A. Hanson (a2) and William M. Ringle (a3)
Abstract

The Classic-to-Postclassic transition in the Maya Lowlands is a focus of contemporary debate. At the site of Ek Balam, Yucatán, excavation of Structure GS-12 provided an architectural stratigraphy that spans this period. GS-12-sub was a Late Classic (Pure Florescent) building razed during the construction of GS-12-1, a C-shaped structure of a form generally identified with Postclassic occupations on the Yucatán Peninsula. At Ek Balam the building is associated with Cehpech-sphere ceramics and dated to the Terminal Classic. These data are in general agreement with the dating of such structures at other lowland sites including Uxmal. We contend that C-shaped structures, when found associated with Cehpech-sphere ceramics, are a horizon marker for the Terminal Classic-to-Postclassic transition on the Yucatán Peninsula, and that they illustrate the culture changes that occurred at this still poorly understood boundary. They may be the remains of administrative buildings used by the Maya following the cessation of monumental construction at major centers. Besides contributing to our understanding of the ancient Maya, the implications of this article extend to the general study of collapse and abandonment of complex societies.

El problema de identificar la transición del período Clásico al Posclásico en las tierras bajas Mayas es tema de debate en la actualidad. En el sitio de Ek Balam, Yucatán, excavaciones realizadas en la Estructura GS-12 revelaron una estratigrafía arquitectónica que se relaciona a este período crítico. La estructura GS-12-sub fue una construcción del período Floreciente Puro que se destruyó al construir GS-12-1, una estructura de planta en forma de C y que por lo general se identifica con la ocupación Posclásica en la Península de Yucatán. En Ek Balam, este edificio se asocia con cerámica de la esfera Cehpech. Además, estos datos concuerdan con el fechamiento de estructuras similares reportadas en otros asentamientos de las tierras bajas tales como Uxmal. Proponemos que las estructuras de planta en forma de C, cuando se les encuentra en contextos conteniendo cerámica del período Clásico Tardío, deben considerarse como marcadores de horizonte en la transición del Clásico Tardío al Posclásico en la Península de Yucatán.

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