Thursday, November 21, 2019
Title: Large ceremonial constructions at the beginning of Maya civilization
Abstract: Our recent investigations in Tabasco, Mexico, combine publicly-available low-resolution LiDAR data of a broad area with high-resolution LiDAR data of targeted regions. The analysis of LiDAR images have revealed a series of formal ceremonial complexes, which date to 1,000-800 BC. The largest among them is the newly discovered site of Aguada Fénix. Its platform, measuring 1.4 km in length, is the earliest known monumental construction in the Maya area, and remarkably, the largest in the entire history of Maya society. The period between 1000 and 800 BC corresponds to the transition from mobile lifeways with heavy reliance on wild resources to sedentism with a stronger commitment to maize agriculture. These constructions are analogous to large buildings made by pre-agricultural or incipient agricultural societies in other parts of the world, including the Near East, the American Southeast, and the Andes. These finds point to the importance of ritual and collective work at the beginning of Maya civilization, which were carried out without coercion by elites.