Development of sedentary communities in the Maya lowlands: Coexisting mobile groups and public ceremonies at Ceibal, Guatemala

Takeshi Inomata, Jessica MacLellan, Daniela Triadan, Jessica Munson, Melissa Burham, Kazuo Aoyama, Hiroo Nasu, Flory Pinzón, Hitoshi Yonenobu, Jeremy A. Sabloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Our archaeological investigations at Ceibal, a lowland Maya site located in the Pasión region, documented that a formal ceremonial complex was built around 950 B.C. at the onset of the Middle Pre-classic period, when ceramics began to be used in the Maya lowlands. Our refined chronology allowed us to trace the subsequent social changes in a resolution that had not been possible before. Many residents of Ceibal appear to have remained relatively mobile during the following centuries, living in ephemeral post-in-ground structures and frequently changing their residential localities. In other parts of the Pasión region, there may have existed more mobile populations who maintained the traditional lifestyle of the preceramic period. Although the emerging elite of Ceibal began to live in a substantial residential complex by 700 B.C., advanced sedentism with durable residences rebuilt in the same locations and burials placed under house floors was not adopted in most residential areas until 500 B.C., and did not become common until 300 B.C. or the Late Preclassic period. During the Middle Preclassic period, substantial formal ceremonial complexes appear to have been built only at a small number of important communities in the Maya lowlands, and groups with different levels of sedentism probably gathered for their constructions and for public rituals held in them. These collaborative activities likely played a central role in socially integrating diverse groups with different lifestyles and, eventually, in developing fully established sedentary communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4268-4273
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume112
Issue number14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 7 2015

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Keywords

  • Maya
  • Mesoamerican archaeology
  • Public ceremony
  • Sedentism
  • Subsistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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