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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Settlement patterns and communication routes of the western Maya wetlands: An archaeological and remote-sensing survey, Chunchucmil, Yucatan, Mexico
by Hixson, David R., Ph.D., Tulane University, 2011, 435; 3492285
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates the role of the seasonal wetlands in the political economy and subsistence strategies of the ancient Maya of Chunchucmil, Yucatan, Mexico. A combination of pedestrian surveys and remote-sensing tasks were performed in order to better understand the settlement patterns and potential communication routes in and through the wetlands between Chunchucmil and the Gulf of Mexico. These western wetlands had been proposed as the principal avenue for interregional trade between coastal merchants and inland consumers, yet were thought to be uninhabited and uncultivable. Following the survey tasks outlined in this dissertation, these wetlands were found to contain an abundance of archaeological settlements and features indicating habitation, utilization, and trade throughout this diverse ecological zone.

The remote-sensing platforms utilized in this study include both multispectral (Landsat) and synthetic aperture radar (AirSAR), combined with additional remotely sensed resources. One of the goals of this survey was to test the capabilities of these two sensors for the direct detection of archaeological features from air and space. The results indicate that Landsat can be highly successful at detecting site location and measuring site size under certain environmental conditions. The Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar proved to be adept at detecting large mounded architecture within the Yucatecan karstic plain, but its further utility is hampered by limitations of resolution, scale, and land cover.

One of the salient features of the landscape west of Chunchucmil is a network of stone pathways called andadores. These avenues through the wetlands outline a dendritic network of communication, trade, and extraction routes. The following dissertation places this network and its associated settlements (from suburban centers to diminutive camps) within their regional context, examining the roles they may have played in supporting a large mercantile economy centered at the site of Chunchucmil.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Andrews, E. Wyllys, V
School: Tulane University
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Latin American history, Native American studies, Remote sensing
Keywords: Archaeology, Chunchucmil, Communication routes, Landsat, Maya, Mexico, Settlement patterns, Trade routes, Wetlands, Yucatan
Publication Number: 3492285
ISBN: 978-1-267-10841-8
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