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Title: From Lamanai to Ka'kabish : human and environment interaction, settlement change, and urbanism in northern Belize
Author: McLellan, Alec
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 3852
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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At Lamanai and Ka'kabish, two Precolumbian Maya centres in north-western Belize, archaeologists have focused their research on the environment, architecture, and long-term occupation of the civic-ceremonial centres. The sites' rural or hinterland populations, however, which were presumably critical to the support of the centres, have not been studied. These populations are key to an understanding of the sites' long histories and especially to our understanding of urban and rural relationships and how Lamanai survived the Maya collapse (AD 600-900), flourished during the transition to the Postclassic period (AD 900-1500), and continued to be a focus of settlement in the Spanish colonial period. Only two small-scale studies have shown interest in the domestic occupation of the larger region and they have been restricted by funding and time, leaving a massive gap in an otherwise robust and important comparative dataset. By reconstructing the spatial and temporal dynamics of Ka'kabish, Lamanai, and the inter-site settlement zone, and comparing them to environmental evidence from pollen cores collected in the New River Lagoon, this study aims to shed much-needed light on the processes that promoted the continuity in evidence in this region. The results of the analysis indicate that the historical trajectory of the civic-ceremonial centres and the inter-site settlement zone differed in many ways. The centre of Lamanai remained occupied long after the abandonment of the peripheries and Ka'kabish, which were almost completely depopulated by the end of the Late Postclassic (AD 1250-1521) period. It is possible that Lamanai was occupied longer than many other sites in the region because of a large influx of migrant populations in the Terminal Classic (AD 800-1000) and Early Postclassic (AD 900-1250) periods, as evidenced by changes in ceramic traditions and a dramatic increase in the number of single domestic structures and their distribution. It also seems likely that the inhabitants of Lamanai reacted to earlier periods of increased soil erosion and deforestation (in the Late Preclassic and Early Classic) by managing their agricultural and arboreal resources in the Terminal Classic and Early Postclassic periods, striking a balance between settlement growth and an increasing need to exploit the environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available