A space of One's own: Houselot size among the ancient Maya

Scott R. Hutson, Timothy S. Hare, Travis W. Stanton, Marilyn A. Masson, Nicolas C. Barth, Traci Ardren, Aline Magnoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper uses new data from lidar mapping to explore variation in the size of ancient Maya houselots. The amount of space available to households has important implications for subsistence, craft activities, social relations, and more. Comparisons of houselot data from three large cities (Coba, Mayapan, and Chunchucmil) and one rural area (southwestern Quintana Roo) show significant differences in houselot size across the four case studies. Site size has no effect when comparing across case studies although patterns of variation do emerge within the case studies. Of the major factors explored–wealth, household size, distance from site core, availability of open space, and agricultural strategies–houselot space correlates most strongly (but not unequivocally) with proxies for wealth. Craft activities have little bearing on houselot size. Agricultural strategies likely factor in to houselot size at Chunchucmil and in southwestern Quintana Roo but only in the latter case do houselots play a role in smallholding. Multiple regressions show that much of the variability in houselot size remains unexplained. This indicates that unquantifiable factors such as local customs and idiosyncratic historical events play a large role in shaping the amount of room ancient Maya people had for living space, rather than administrative or supra-domestic bureaucratic structures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101362
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Volume64
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research at Coba was supported by the National Science Foundation ( BCS-1623603 ), Fundación Roberto Hernández, and Selz Foundation . Research at Chunchucmil was supported by the National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation (BCS-9910545 awarded to Bruce Dahlin and Traci Ardren). Research at Mayapan was supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS-1144511 awarded in 2012 to the Mayapan LiDAR project [T. Hare, PI, Morehead State University] and BCS-0109426 awarded in 2002 to the Proyecto Los Fundamentos de Poder Económico de Mayapan, “PEMY” [M. Masson, PI, University at Albany SUNY]).

Funding Information:
We thank the Consejo de Arqueolog?a of the Instituto Nacional de Antropolog?a e Historia for granting the permits to conduct this research; all data are cultural patrimony of Mexico. At Coba, we appreciate the support and guidance of Mar?a Jos? Con Uribe, Jos? Manuel Ochoa Rodr?guez, Adriana Vel?zquez, Fernando Robles Castellanos, Manuel P?rez Rivas, and the many members of the PSYC Project. Additionally, we thank the communities of Cob?, Nuevo Xcan, San Juan, and San Pedro for allowing us to conduct research in their ejidos. For our work at the ruin of Chunchucmil we appreciate the support of the communities and ejidos of Kochol and Chunchucmil. Research at Mayapan is a collaborative, international project and Hare and Masson remain grateful for the countless contributions of Carlos Peraza Lope (our senior co-director) and Bradley W. Russell (co-director), whose dissertation research outside of the city wall raised all of the important questions about the extent, timing, character, and functional diversity of settlement units in greater Mayapan. Our research on Mayapan's houselot walls owes a debt of gratitude to the archival staff of the Peabody Museum of Harvard, who, nearly two decades ago, shared with us some of William Bullard's (Carnegie Institution) unpublished maps of these features over vast tracts of the city. These map data continue to inform our research, form part of the Mayapan database, and inspire continued research on these features. We thank the editors of this Journal and its peer reviewers for dozens of suggestions that strengthened the manuscript. Research at Coba was supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS-1623603), Fundaci?n Roberto Hern?ndez, and Selz Foundation. Research at Chunchucmil was supported by the National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation (BCS-9910545 awarded to Bruce Dahlin and Traci Ardren). Research at Mayapan was supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS-1144511 awarded in 2012 to the Mayapan LiDAR project [T. Hare, PI, Morehead State University] and BCS-0109426 awarded in 2002 to the Proyecto Los Fundamentos de Poder Econ?mico de Mayapan, ?PEMY? [M. Masson, PI, University at Albany SUNY]).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Ancient Maya
  • Household archeaology
  • Kitchen gardens
  • Lidar
  • Property
  • Settlement patterns
  • Urbanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A space of One's own: Houselot size among the ancient Maya'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this