The Last Day of a Fortified Classic Maya Center: Archaeological Investigations at Aguateca, Guatemala


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Ancient Mesoamerica

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Archaeological investigations at Aguateca, Guatemala, by the Petexbatun Regional Archaeological Project have provided clues to the intriguing sequence of the downfall of this Maya center. The earliest substantial occupation at Aguateca dates to the Late Preclassic period. After very little presence during the Early Classic period, Aguateca rapidly grew into a densely occupied center, probably at the beginning of the eighth century a.d. Migration from other areas may have contributed to this rapid population growth. In the late eighth century, extensive defensive walls were constructed, most likely as a response to intensified warfare. Despite this defensive effort, Aguateca was finally attacked and brought down by enemies probably at the beginning of the ninth century. The center appears to have been almost completely abandoned soon after this event. This reconstructed sequence confirms other evidence of the Petexbatun Project that intensified warfare played an important role in the Classic Maya collapse.

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