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Regroup On “E-Groups”: Monumentality and Early Centers in the Middle Preclassic Maya Lowlands

  • James A. Doyle (a1)
Abstract

For nearly a century, scholars have used astronomical evidence to explain the Lowland Maya architectural type known as “E-Groups” as solar observatories and, by extension, as locations for rituals related to solar and agricultural cycles. This article departs from the usual focus on the observational properties of E-Groups and places them in the context of early Maya monumentality during the Middle Preclassic period. Specifically, E-Groups are seen as the earliest monumental social spaces in the Maya Lowlands, with multifaceted functions and placements that indicate a shared social map of the landscape. Geographic information systems viewshed analysis of Middle Preclassic E-Group sites demonstrates that populations constructed E-Groups in places that maximized visibility of the nearby landscape. Viewsheds conducted at sites with Middle Preclassic E-Groups in the central Maya Lowlands suggest that the large plazas and similar monumental architecture represent the centers of comparable, mutually visible communities. Settlers founding these communities consciously created distance from neighboring monumental centers, perhaps as means of defining and buttressing group identity and undergirding spatial claims to political authority. Recent archaeological evidence affords clues that such spaces were civic, allowing architectural settings for social gatherings and access to resources.

Por casi cien años, diversos estudios se han basado en evidencia arqueoastronómica para tratar los complejos arquitectónicos del “Grupo Tipo E,” propio de las Tierras Bajas Mayas, como observatorios solares y, por consiguiente, como centros rituales relacionados con los ciclos solares y agrícolas. El presente artículo parte de las características observacionales de los Grupos Tipo E y los ubica en un contexto de desarrollo temprano de la monumentalidad en el mundo maya, durante el período Preclásico Medio. Específicamente, el artículo ubica a los Grupos Tipo E como los primeros espacios sociales-monumentales con funciones polifacéticas en las Tierras Bajas Mayas. Esto lo realiza tras presentar la localización de los grupos como evidencia de un mapa social del paisaje compartido entre los colonos mayas tempranos. El autor usa sistemas de información geográfica de sitios con Grupos Tipo E del Preclásico Medio para demostrar que las poblaciones construyeron los Grupos Tipo E en lugares que maximizaron la visibilidad sobre los terrenos aledaños. El análisis del campo visual llevado a cabo en sitios con Grupos Tipo E del Preclásico Medio en las Tierras Bajas Mayas centrales sugiere que las plazas monumentales con la arquitectura similar representan los centros de communidades comparables. Los fundadores de estas comunidades habrían creado conscientemente distancia de los centros monumentales vecinos, quizás con el fin de definir o reforzar una identidad grupal o de sustentar autoridad política sobre reclamos territoriales. El artículo presenta evidencia arqueológica reciente sobre el uso cívico de dichos espacios monumentales tempranos, espacios que proveían de un marco arquitectónico para concurrencias sociales y a la vez facilitaban el acceso a distintos recursos.

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Latin American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 1045-6635
  • EISSN: 2325-5080
  • URL: /core/journals/latin-american-antiquity
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