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Settlement Archaeology at Quirigua, Guatemala

Settlement Archaeology at Quirigua, Guatemala

Robert J. Sharer General Editor
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Settlement Archaeology at Quirigua, Guatemala
    Book Description:

    This monograph reports the results of the Quiriguá Project Site Periphery Program, five seasons (1975-1979) of archaeological survey and excavation in the 96 km2 immediately adjoining the classic Maya site of Quiriguá. Ashmore identifies and helps us understand where and how the people of Quiriguá lived. She presents detailed material evidence in two data catalogues, for the floodplain settlement adjoining Quiriguá and for sites in the wider periphery. The work situates Quiriguá settlement firmly in a regional context, benefiting from the extraordinary abundance of information amassed in southeastern Mesoamerica since 1979. It sheds new light on the political, economic, and social dynamics of the region including the sometimes-fractious interactions between Quiriguá, its overlords at Copan, and people elsewhere in the Lower Motagua Valley and beyond. Quiriguá Reports, IV

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-41-4
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Plates
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Figures
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. PART 1

    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-16)

      With these words, John Lloyd Stephens closed his summary account of Frederick Catherwood’s visit to the lowland Maya ruins of Quiriguá in 1840. It was this brief account, plus Catherwood’s two sketches of carved stelae, that brought Quiriguá (see Fig. 1.1) from obscurity in the rainforest of Izabal, Guatemala, to public attention the world over. Since then, countless scholars and laymen alike have been attracted to the site, and above all, to its magnificent sculpture. But while many have inferred the existence of an important “city” or “capital” to support the rulers and sculptors responsible for these monuments, few tried...

    • 2 Setting and Methodology
      (pp. 17-38)

      This chapter has two purposes. The first is to describe the ecological setting at Quiriguá, as a set of resources and constraints both to ancient human settlement and to modern archaeological investigation. The second purpose is to outline the methods used in the Quiriguá Site Periphery Program, as the research evolved in response to changing questions and field conditions.

      Although Quiriguá is defined culturally and by elevation as a lowland Maya center, its setting shares characteristics variably with the lowlands to the north and with the highland valleys to the west, south, and east. In climate, flora, and fauna, Quiriguá...

    • 3 The Site Periphery Settlement Sample
      (pp. 39-66)

      The purpose of this chapter is to summarize the archaeological remains recorded in the Quiriguá Site Periphery Program. Detailed descriptions of all settlement features are presented in Parts 2 and 3 of the monograph, the data catalogues proper. Here, however, an overview of the range and number of forms encountered provides the foundation for interpretive inferences outlined in Chapters 4 through 7.

      While it is true that archaeological features are the basic units of settlement, different kinds of features represent different kinds of behavior. The task of classification is to clarify the dimensions of variability within a data set, at...

    • 4 Occupation History at Quiriguá
      (pp. 67-92)

      In the preceding chapter, the archaeological features of the Quiriguá Site Periphery were described as form categories, regardless of age. In this section, recorded elements are grouped chronologically, outlining a culture history of site periphery occupation and allowing observations concerning stability and change in settlement scale and composition through time. Each of the chronological sets of features defines a periphery time span (abbreviated PTS), and for each PTS the following six topics are discussed: nature of the evidence defining the span; characteristic architectural forms and style; physical extent of the floodplain center, including data from the Site Core; location relative...

    • 5 Quiriguá Demography and Land Use
      (pp. 93-112)

      This chapter evaluates Late Classic settlement sampling in the Quiriguá Floodplain Periphery, considers the extent of ancient settlement, and examines settlement and land use beyond the floodplain center. Social and other aspects of internal structure in the Floodplain Periphery are considered more extensively in subsequent chapters.

      More specifically, quantitative assessment of the sample in this chapter identifies density-defined boundaries for floodplain settlement in PTS 3/2, and evidence for varying construction densities within those bounds. A second section uses the construction data to infer population size and density. Both sections reinforce findings presented earlier elsewhere (Ashmore 1981a, 1990), in light of...

    • 6 Social Distinctions and Integration
      (pp. 113-136)

      Having outlined the distribution of settlement features within the Site Periphery, and having estimated size and spatial distribution for the resident populace they sheltered, I turn now to two of the multiple social orders that shaped those residents’ lives. In this chapter, I summarize evidence for social stratification at Quiriguá, and for economic organization at household and community scales. I also reconstruct means by which disparate segments of local society were integrated, looking at paraphernalia and the public and private settings that materialized political ceremonies and religious ritual. The conclusions reaffirm characterization of Quiriguá as not only smaller than Copán...

    • 7 Socially and Symbolically Constituted Space
      (pp. 137-156)

      Having discussed social differentiation and integration among the residents of greater Quiriguá, and having proposed the nature of the local economy, I turn to spatial organization in the settlement. The principal foci are reconsideration of the Quiriguá Patterns (QP) and other settlement forms introduced in Chapter 3, and inference of symbolism attached to specific civic buildings and spaces. The central contentions are two: (1) that the distribution of Quiriguá Patterns, especially QP 3, QP 4, and QP 5, materializes subdivision of the PTS 3/2 social landscape, and (2) that placement and orientation of specific constructed spaces reflect tenets of ancient...

    • 8 Conclusions
      (pp. 157-160)

      When we began field research at Quiriguá in 1974, virtually nothing was known about ancient Maya settlement there. Settlement inquiry by the University of Pennsylvania Museum project therefore focused on basic documentation and socioeconomic inferences: (1) the extent and density of local precolumbian settlement, (2) its longevity and the continuity of occupation, and (3) the social and economic systems shaping observed settlement. We designed the research to address working propositions about Quiriguá settlement thought plausible in 1974: that it was a ceremonial center, a political subordinate of Copán, a locus of lucrative agricultural production, and/or a transshipment point on a...

    • Endnotes
      (pp. 161-162)
  8. PART 2

  9. References Cited
    (pp. 327-350)
  10. Index
    (pp. 351-362)
  11. [CD Content]

    • [CD Content Front Matter]
      (pp. i-iv)
    • List of Plates
      (pp. v-v)
    • List of Figures
      (pp. vi-xi)
    • List of Tables
      (pp. xii-xiv)
    • Plates
      (pp. 1-15)
    • Part 1 Figures
      (pp. 16-26)
    • Part 2 Figures
      (pp. 27-73)
    • Tables, Parts 1 and 2
      (pp. 74-85)
    • Part 3 Quiriguá Wider Periphery
      (pp. 86-183)

      Part 3 presents descriptive summaries for each of the Quiriguá Wider Periphery sites encountered by the Site Periphery Program. Presentation is ordered by locus number, in a running numerical series. Each entry contains the following kinds of information, insofar as available:

      Principal identifying label: locus number. Chapter 3 in Part 1 defines feature categories and labels.

      Pertinent operation and/or lot numbers, if any: These are accompanied by alternative site names, if any.

      General Location: location context of topography, modern reference points, and other archaeological features.

      Resources: known or inferred soil quality, stone availability, hydrology, or communication resources in the site’s...

    • Index
      (pp. 184-186)