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  1. Abstract

    Recent advances in spatial and remote sensing technology have led to new methods in archaeological site identification and reconstruction, allowing archaeologists to investigate landscapes and sites on multiple scales. These remotely conducted surveys create virtual cultural landscapes and seascapes that archaeologists and the public interact with and experience, often better than traditional maps. Our study examines landscape reconstruction and archaeological site classifications from a phenomenological and human behavioural ecology (HBE) perspective. HBE aims to reconstruct how humans interacted with these places as part of their active and passive decision making. Through temporal reconstructions, archaeologists and others can experience and interpret past landscapes and subtle changes in cultural land‐ and seascapes. Here, we evaluate the use of remotely sensed data (lidar, satellite imagery, sonar, radar, etc.) for developing virtual cultural landscapes while also incorporating Indigenous perspectives. Our study compares two vastly different landscapes and perspectives: a seascape in coastal Alaska, USA, and a neotropical jungle in Belize, Central America. By incorporating ethnographic accounts, oral histories, Indigenous traditional knowledge and community engagement, archaeologists can develop new tools to understand decisions made in the past, especially pertaining to settlement selection and resource procurement. These virtual reconstructions become cognitive images of a possible place that the observer experiences. Virtual cultural landscapes allow archaeologists to reproduce landscapes that may otherwise be invisible and present them to different publics. These processes elucidate how landscapes changed over time based on human behaviours while simultaneously allowing archaeologists to engage with Indigenous communities and the public in the protection of prehistoric and historic sites and sacred spaces through cultural heritage management.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    A menudo se afirma que los asentamientos del sur de Mesoamérica representan un tipo de organización espacial distinto al de otros sistemas urbanos contemporáneos. Utilizando el marco analítico “escalado de asentamientos” investigamos las maneras específicas en las que los sistemas de asentamientos de Mesoamérica del Sur se asemejan, o no, a sistemas contemporáneos. Utilizamos la información registrada en sondeos de asentamientos Mayas y encontramos que la relación entre población y área difiere marcadamente de lo reportado para otros sistemas de asentamientos de carácter agrario. Notamos patrones más típicos cuando consideramos el epicentro de una zona arqueológica como el área de principal interacción social. Nuestros resultados implican que las poblaciones del sur de Mesoamérica poseían ritmos de interacción más lentos que la de otros sistemas urbanos contemporáneos. Las unidades familiares ubicaban sus residencias con el fin de equilibrar los costos de transporte ligados a la actividad agrícola y al desplazamiento a lugares centrales. El aumento de los rendimientos en actividades colectivas fueron realizadas a través de mezclas sociales de menor frecuencia. Concluimos que la principal diferencia entre el urbanismo Maya de baja densidad y otras experiencias urbanas contemporáneas tienen su origen en los patrones de movimiento asociados a las interacciónes sociales. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    In the past decade, Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) has fundamentally changed our ability to remotely detect archaeological features and deepen our understanding of past human-environment interactions, settlement systems, agricultural practices, and monumental constructions. Across archaeological contexts, lidar relief visualization techniques test how local environments impact archaeological prospection. This study used a 132 km2 lidar dataset to assess three relief visualization techniques—sky-view factor (SVF), topographic position index (TPI), and simple local relief model (SLRM)—and object-based image analysis (OBIA) on a slope model for the non-automated visual detection of small hinterland Classic (250–800 CE) Maya settlements near the polities of Uxbenká and Ix Kuku’il in Southern Belize. Pedestrian survey in the study area identified 315 plazuelas across a 35 km2 area; the remaining 90 km2 in the lidar dataset is yet to be surveyed. The previously surveyed plazuelas were compared to the plazuelas visually identified on the TPI and SLRM. In total, an additional 563 new possible plazuelas were visually identified across the lidar dataset, using TPI and SLRM. Larger plazuelas, and especially plazuelas located in disturbed environments, are often more likely to be detected in a visual assessment of the TPI and SLRM. These findings emphasize the extent and density of Classic Maya settlements and highlight the continued need for pedestrian survey to ground-truth remotely identified archaeological features and the impact of modern anthropogenic behaviors for archaeological prospection. Remote sensing and lidar have deepened our understanding of past human settlement systems and low-density urbanism, processes that we experience today as humans residing in modern cities. 
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  4. Southern Belize has received less archaeological attention than other areas due in large part to its remote location. However, the difficulty in accessing the area in recent times does not necessarily equate to isolation for the Classic Period Maya who lived in what is now the Toledo District. This paper discusses petrographic data collected on ceramic vessels recovered from burial contexts at Uxbenká, Belize. The partial and reconstructed whole vessels from these primary contexts include locally produced vessels that are stylistically and technologically unique to the southern Belize region and vessels produced elsewhere. We use these data to evaluate how local Uxbenká potters produced ceramic vessels for local consumption and to identify long-distance interaction networks between Uxbenká and other regions of the Maya Lowlands. Our data indicate that most of the pottery at Uxbenká was produced locally. However, elite tombs often include both local and non-local vessels. The elites of Uxbenká engaged in interaction with people living much farther afield in regions like the Belize River Valley and possibly Guatemala. 
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  5. A decade of archaeology research at Uxbenká and five years of archaeological investigations at Ix Kuku’il have resulted in an understanding of the prehistory of these ancient political centers and established a tradition of engaged archaeology in Santa Cruz (Uxbenká) and San Jose (Ix Kuku’il). Over the course of 1000 years Uxbenká and Ix Kuku’il were initially settled during the end of the Late Preclassic and beginning of the Early Classic, developed into regional centers as foci of ritual and political events throughout the Early and Late Classic periods, and gradually declined through the Terminal Classic. The chronological sequences of Uxbenká and Ix Kuku’il were developed from multiproxy datasets including radiocarbon dates and ceramic analyses, as well as hieroglyphic texts at Uxbenká. Community-based and collaborative archaeology has been a goal of the Uxbenká Archaeological Project (UAP) and resulted in rotational labor programs and Archaeology Days in Santa Cruz and San Jose. 
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