Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (x, 263 pages) : illustrations (chiefly color), maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Marilyn A Masson

Committee Members

Traci A Ardren, Sean M Rafferty


Ancient Maya, Archaeology Yucatan, Mexico, Northern Maya Lowlands, Preclassic Maya, Rejolladas, Xuenkal, Mayas, Maya architecture, Excavations (Archaeology)

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


Ancient economies are dominated by the production of food crops. At Xuenkal there is a good case to study how economies developed in the northern Maya lowlands between the late Preclassic Period and the Early Classic Period. Xuenkal is located in a unique zone of the Yucatan peninsula where the numerous karst sinks were appropriated and controlled by the earliest agriculturalists or horticulturalists. This dissertation will include arguments for both the development of complexity in this region and how this complexity was directly affected by the presence and cultivation of these constricted resource areas. Using the principle of first occupation it may be seen that those who took control of these resources, in the earliest occupations at this site, were able to flourish in times of high productivity and survive in times of high stress. Here data will be presented from modern ethnobotanical surveys, archaeological excavation and mapping, and spatial analysis to draw a picture of the mechanisms that likely allowed for Xuenkal's size and status in the ancient Maya world.