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Archaeological investigations in the El Paraíso valley: the role of secondary centers in the multiethnic landscape of classic period Copan

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Article of journalCanuto, Marcello A.; Bell, Ellen E. (Tulane University, Middle American Research Institute, Department of Anthropology, New Orleans, Estados Unidos; California State University, Department of Anthropology, Geography, and Ethnic Studies, Stanislaus, Estados Unidos). Archaeological investigations in the El Paraíso valley: the role of secondary centers in the multiethnic landscape of classic period Copan.  / Investigaciones arqueológicas en el valle de El Paraíso: el papel de los centros secundarios en el paisaje multiétnico del período clásico de Copan Ancient Mesoamerica, 2013 vol. 24 no. 1 p. 1-24. Keywords:
Honduras
Archaeology
Pre-hispanic period

Abstract:

Investigations of Classic period (a.d. 400–900) settlement in the El Paraíso Valley, western Honduras, have identified a pattern of paired centers that suggests a previously unrecognized model of political organization in the Maya area. In the El Paraíso Valley, the largely contemporary, equally-sized, and proximate centers of El Cafetal and El Paraíso differ radically from one another in their spatial organization, construction techniques, architectural embellishment, use of open space, and portable material culture. Analysis of these differences suggests that El Cafetal was inhabited by an autochthonous population while El Paraíso was founded under the auspices of the Copan dynasty as an administrative outpost. We suggest that the juxtaposition of these two sites results from a regional strategy of sociopolitical integration implemented by Copan rulers that was adapted to the ethnically diverse regions along the edge of the Copan kingdom.

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