Project Results
Dissertation and all web site contents copyright 2008 Bradley W. Russell
Dissertation and all web site contents copyright 2008 Bradley W. Russell
Settlement history in the region based on distribution of ceramics
The distribution of ceramics in the area varied widely over time and is a direct expression of related
changes in the site’s settlement history.  The distributions serve as clues to both settlement location and
settlement density.  As much of the construction in the area was perishable, and a portion of the more
permanent structures have been obscured or destroyed by later activity and geologic processes, the
ceramics provide, in many respects, a more complete picture than can be gained by simply examining
the distribution of architectural remains themselves.  The combined ceramic data from surface
collections and sub-surface testing documented by the Economic Foundations of Mayapán and Mayapán
Periphery projects provide a detailed sequence of the change in ceramic distributions from the Late
Preclassic through the colonial periods.  The two data sets are largely complimentary.  As would be
expected, the sub-surface testing was far more successful at detecting remains from the earlier periods
and provides a more complete overall picture of the changes being discussed.
The ceramic distributions suggest that the area around Mayapán has been populated to greater or
lesser degrees going all the way back to the Late Preclassic period.  From the Late Preclassic through
the end of the Late Classic period (Figures 6.38-6.40), settlement density remained light and was
primarily clustered around several cenotes in the area that still serve as reliable water sources today.  
Among these, it appears that inhabitants were living in relatively close proximity to cenotes which were
easily entered.  Most cenotes in the area have steep vertical entrances, a function of the processes of
erosion and collapse that usually form them.  However, in northeast and southern portions of the site,
there are several cenotes which have formed sloping entrances that are easily climbed for access.  It is
around these easily accessed cenotes that the early inhabitants of the area chose to settle.  Particularly
noteworthy are Cenote Actun Burro (a cenote with two conned entrances) in the northeast and Cenote
Madero to the south in the settlement area known as D’zan Tun Ch’en.  Settlement in these two locations
remained relatively constant throughout all three time periods, possibly expanding slightly with time.  
There was a similar pocket of settlement located in the northwest portion of the study area.  The
distribution of water sources in that area is lesser known.  However, the presence of sustained
settlement in the vicinity tends to suggest the location of a reliable water-bearing cenote nearby.
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