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Preclassic Round Structures of the Upper Belize River Valley

  • James J. Aimers (a1), Terry G. Powis (a2) and Jaime J. Awe (a3)
Abstract

Round structures are considered a rarity in Maya architecture. Four late Middle Preclassic period (650-300 B.C.) round structures excavated at the Maya site of Cahal Pech demonstrate that this was a common architectural form for the Preclassic Maya of the upper Belize River Valley. These open platforms are described, and compared to similar forms in the Belize Valley and elsewhere. An interpretation of their significance is offered that uses information from artifacts, burials, and ethnohistory as well as analogy with round structures in other parts of the world. We suggest that these small round platforms were used for performance related to their role as burial or ancestor shrines.

Resumen

En Mesoamérica las estructuras redondas han sido consideradascomo una forma arquitectónica poco frecuente. Aún así, la presencia de cuatro plataformas circulares pertenecientes al Periódo Preclásico Medio Tardío (650-300 A.C.) halladas en Cahal Pech (Belize) demuestran que ésta era una forma arquitectónica común entre los mayas preclásicos de la zona alta del Río Belize. Dichas construcciones no propórcionan pruebas de superestructuras. Las interpretaciones de las estructuras ya mencionadas, cuyos estilos son variados, han sido múltiples. Han sido descritas como viviendas, saunas, sepulcros, monumentos de ascensión, o estructuras asociadas con la actuación y la oratoria. Las plataformas del Valle de Belize son analizadas y comparadas con formas similares que se hallan extendidas por las llanuras mayas y por otras zonas de Mesoamérica. La interpretación que se ofrece de su significado e importancia utiliza pruebas arqueológicas, relatos etnohistóricos y analogías interculturales. Creémos que dichas plataformas circulares estaban relacionadas a su función de sepulcro o capilla ancestral.

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Latin American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 1045-6635
  • EISSN: 2325-5080
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