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Settlement History and the Classic Collapse at Copan: A Redefined Chronological Perspective

  • David Webster (a1) and AnnCorinne Freter (a2)
Abstract

Surveys, test pitting, and large-scale excavation carried out since 1975 around the Classic Maya center of Copan, in western Honduras, have yielded a wealth of settlement data. A total of 2,048 obsidian-hydration dates have redefined the Late Classic Coner ceramic phase, showing it to extend well into the Early Postclassic. Sites with Coner ceramics exhibit much more intraphase chronological variation than expected. The Classic “collapse” at Copan was much more protracted than thought previously. There is an abrupt royal collapse at about A.D. 800, but subroyal elite activity continues for another 200 years, and population declines gradually over a period of four centuries.

A partir de 1975 el valle de Copan en Honduras occidental donde se encuentra el centro maya clásico de Copan ha sido el objeto de un extenso reconocimiento arqueológico seguido por excavaciones a gran escala y pozos de sondeo. El método cronológico de hidratación de obsidiana se usa para controlar la cronología de más de 200 yacimientos fechados a la fase cerámica Coner. Se demuestra que esta fase es mucha más larga que la estimación original de 200 ános y además existe una gran variación de cronología interna entre los distintos episodios de occupación de los yacimientos individuales. Evaluación de esta variación occupacional ha permitido la derivación de un nuevo valor poblacional para el valle durante el apogeo de Copan; se estima que hubo alrededor de 20.000 habitantes en 750-800 D.C. Las reconstrucciones originales del colapso clásico de Copan son incorrectos. La dinastía real sí perdio poder repentínamente alrededor de 800 D.C., pero actividades por parte de la clase alta aunque no real continuan por lo menos hasta 1000 D.C. No hay un colapso demográfico repentino en Copan. La población del valle llega a un máximo alrededor de 800-850 D.C. desde que punto empieza su declinación y eventual desaparición durante los próximos 400 años. El patrón de esta declinación poblacional no es catastrófico ni en terminos políticos o demográficos, pero si es consistente con modelos de degradación agrícola. Cuando métodos cronológicos con una base geoquímica sean usados a esta escala sobre otras secuencias de asentamiento por el momento fechados por sus asociaciones cerámicas, ya sea en la zona maya ú en otros lugares, es posible que arqueólogos tengan que definir de nuevo sus cronologías tradicionales y tomar en cuenta una mayor variedad de comportamiento humano de lo anticipado.

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