Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Monumental Foundations: An Investigation of the Preclassic Development of Civic-Ceremonial Plazas in the Cival Region, Guatemala
by Ahern, Kaitlin R., Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2020, 248; 27995779
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates the role of civic-ceremonial plazas in the formation and maintenance of the Preclassic period Maya centers of Cival, Holmul, and Witzna located in the Cival region in northern Guatemala. Ancient Maya public plazas are largely understudied by archaeologists, despite filling a critical role in the understanding of community formation and interaction through the practices associated with the commemorative and ceremonial rituals held in these locations. These public plazas were places of interaction that ranged from public, open places to restricted spaces. The theories of practice, structuration, place, social memory, and communities of practice are utilized here to critically examine the types of interactions and

This examination of civic-ceremonial plazas in the Cival region draws upon excavations, GIS data, proxemics, estimated plaza capacity, and archaeological evidence of ritual activities to understand practices, which resulted in the emergence and continued occupation of public plazas. Lime plaster samples acquired from plaza floors are used to provide insight into the interaction and exchange of practices between the sites of Cival, Holmul, and Witzna. Thin section petrography, SEM-EDS, and x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) are used to analyze the mineralogical and elemental composition of lime plaster, which is subsequently used to determine the quality of the plaster and in the identification of communities of practice.

Findings from this study confirm the strong connection between Cival and Holmul during the Late Preclassic period by demonstrating the existence of multiple communities of practice involving the addition of barite to lime plaster production and the semi-standardization of E-Groups in the region. Additionally, it was discovered that the centers of Cival, Holmul, and Witzna each experienced a distinct trajectory regarding the construction and spatial positioning of public and private plazas. Despite these differences, public plazas remained essential focal points of community activity and as locations for commemorative and ceremonial rituals for each of these three sites throughout the Preclassic and Classic periods. Private plazas were also essential locations for ceremonial and ritual events conducted among a more restricted community, such as seen at the Watchtower plaza in East Witzna. The practices associated with the ritual events in these plazas were preserved in the material remains of lime plaster surfaces, caches, and stelae. These physical remains are used to provide insight into the types of rituals conducted in these plazas.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chevral, Timothy
Commitee: Perrelli, Douglas, Milisauskas, Sarunas
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Archaeology, Latin American history
Keywords: Ancient Maya, Plazas, Preclassic
Publication Number: 27995779
ISBN: 9798635289402
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