AuthorKunen, Julie Lynn, 1968-
AdvisorCulbert, T. Patrick
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation investigates the organization of ancient Maya settlements with respect to the use and management of critical agricultural resources. I find that inhabitants of my study area divided the landscape into discrete zones, each with a distinct use pattern. Residences were located in upland areas, where open spaces among the houses were used for gardens. Farming was practiced on terraced slopes in a second zone, where clusters of agricultural installations were designed to sustain cultivation. Finally, a nearby seasonal wetland served as a reservoir of important raw materials. The pattern of land use I document suggests a variation of the infield-outfield model of agriculture. According to this model, farming households invest decreasing amounts of labor in cultivation as the distance from house to agricultural field increases. Some scholars suggest, however, that during the Classic Period (A.D. 600-900) population in the Maya lowlands was so dense as to create continuous rural settlements, with little space separating the sustaining area of one center from that of its neighbors. In consequence, reliance on various forms of intensive cultivation increased, the infields of one polity overlapping those of the neighboring polity. No vacant terrain remained for extensively cultivated outfields, and long-fallow cultivation dropped out of the subsistence repertoire. My research supports this conclusion, with the important exception that certain lands, such as seasonal wetlands, were not conducive to the demands of intensive agriculture, and thus continued to be used as reservoirs of other essential resources. I not only documented the partition of the landscape into discrete zones of use, but also investigated the relationship between access to resources and the social and spatial organization of three ancient Maya communities. My study suggests that the founders of communities gain access to the greatest number of production options. My research links aspects of residential variability, most notably length of occupation, size and complexity of house compounds, and extent of architectural elaboration, to access to productive resources by demonstrating that the residences of community founders---those with evidence for the longest occupation---are also the largest, most complex, and most elaborate in each community.
Degree ProgramGraduate College