Dissertation and all web site contents copyright 2008 Bradley W. Russell
Site Space and Demographics
Until this study, it was largely accepted that the site of Mayapán ended at the imposing city wall or very
near to it. All indications are that the wall was constructed around the majority of the site of Mayapan.
However, the large number of structures mapped outside of this feature suggests that the “site” of
Mayapán was much larger than previously thought. With an estimated 1,700 structures lying outside of
the defensive wall, it appears that nearly one third of Mayapán’s residents lived in this more exposed
zone. Most residential occupation was found crowded within 500m of the wall for apparent defensive
reasons, a substantial area when you consider the 9km length of the wall itself. Interestingly, this
residential zone appears bounded more by the presence of directional shrines than the city wall, a fact
that may have important implications for the influence of the Maya concepts of “sacred space” on urban
layout. The research also revealed the boundary of one outlier site in the south of the city and showed
how another pre-existing settlement in the site’s northeast was integrated into the unusual form of the
settlement through the process of conurbation.
This research represents a significant increase in the estimated population living at the site, expanding
from 11,000 to 12,000 estimated by the Carnegie project to a new estimate of between 15.000 and
17,000 people presented here. It also means that the actual physical size is significantly larger than the
4.2 square km mapped by the Carnegie project since the total area contained with 500m of the wall (the
general point of settlement drop off) is roughly an additional 4.5 square km. The study area itself was
twice that size. Of that, I have intensively surveyed and mapped an area of 2 square km. Of course, this
also represents a decrease in overall site density. With inclusion of this new data, the population grew
by some 42% while the estimated area roughly doubled.
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