Settlement Change, Urbanism, and Human and Environment Interaction at Lamanai and Ka’kabish

Two Precolumbian Maya sites in Northern Belize

Alec McLellan
Publication Year:
232 pages, Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 29 tables, 118 figures.
BAR number:
Sub-series name:
Archaeology of the Maya, 6


At Lamanai and Ka’kabish, two Precolumbian Maya centres in north-western Belize, archaeologists have researched the environment, architecture, and long-term occupation of the civic-ceremonial centres. The sites’ rural or hinterland populations, however, which were presumably critical to the support of the centres, have not been studied. These populations are key to an understanding of the sites’ long histories, which survived the Maya collapse (AD 600-900), flourished during the transition to the Postclassic period (AD 900-1500), and continued to be a focus of settlement in the Spanish Colonial period (AD 1521-1708). By reconstructing the spatial and temporal dynamics of Ka’kabish, Lamanai, and the inter-site settlement zone, and comparing them to environmental evidence from pollen cores collected in the New River Lagoon, this study sheds much-needed light on the processes that promoted the continuity in evidence in this region.

Alec McLellan is a Research Fellow at Trent University, Peterborough, Canada. He has excavated archaeological sites in Belize, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He specialises in settlement patterns, spatial analysis, geographic information systems, and early complex societies. Alec received his PhD from University College London.

‘Ever since the discovery of Early Postclassic public architecture at Lamanai, the site was regarded as an anomaly that survived the precipitous population decline of the 9th century. Now we know that this time was Lamanai’s population peak and have new ways of going forward to understand how it thrived while other cities were abandoned.’ Professor Thomas Guderjan, The University of Texas at Tyler

‘Alec McLellan’s monograph is well written, well researched, and well thought out. It is fresh, timely, and exciting research and it fills a big gap in our understanding of Lamanai and of northern Belize during the Preclassic, Classic, and Postclassic periods.’ Dr Terry Powis, Kennesaw State University 

‘I looked at each chapter and found something useful at every turn. This book will be incredibly useful for anyone involved in Maya (or Mesoamerican) archaeology.’ Professor Fred Valdez, Jr., The University of Texas at Austin

Table of Contents (S3007_ToC.pdf, 242 Kb) [Download]

Introduction (S3007_Introduction.pdf, 182 Kb) [Download]