This paper uses new data from lidar mapping to explore variation in the size of ancient Maya houselots. The amount of space available to households has important implications for subsistence, craft activities, social relations, and more. Comparisons of houselot data from three large cities (Coba, Mayapan, and Chunchucmil) and one rural area (southwestern Quintana Roo) show significant differences in houselot size across the four case studies. Site size has no effect when comparing across case studies although patterns of variation do emerge within the case studies. Of the major factors explored–wealth, household size, distance from site core, availability of open space, and agricultural strategies–houselot space correlates most strongly (but not unequivocally) with proxies for wealth. Craft activities have little bearing on houselot size. Agricultural strategies likely factor in to houselot size at Chunchucmil and in southwestern Quintana Roo but only in the latter case do houselots play a role in smallholding. Multiple regressions show that much of the variability in houselot size remains unexplained. This indicates that unquantifiable factors such as local customs and idiosyncratic historical events play a large role in shaping the amount of room ancient Maya people had for living space, rather than administrative or supra-domestic bureaucratic structures.
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 64, 101362.
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