MAYA HETERARCHY AS INFERRED FROM CLASSIC-PERIOD PLAZA PLANS
Recognition of architectural patterning among groups of structures at lowland Maya sites dating from the Classic period provides insights into the ways that residences and ritual complexes were organized. Each structured group arrangement, or Plaza Plan (PP), reveals an architectural grammar that provides the database enabling us to predict urban as well as rural settlement patterns. Wide variations in sizes among examples of residential PPs suggests that heterarchy was an important aspect of Classic Maya society. Examination of PP2 at Tikal indicates that a heterarchic pattern of organization existed. Heterarchy may relate to the fragility of the structure of lowland Maya kingship, and this may explain the gradual demise of states during the Terminal Classic and Postclassic periods and their replacement by re-emergent Maya chiefdoms.
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