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The relationship between chronology and the later Pre-Columbian history of Yucatán is made clearer by viewing regional stratigraphic and chronological problems within the context of the development of Maya archaeology in the northern lowlands. Almost 140 years after Stephens first visited the area, and over 50 years since major excavations began in Yucatán, uncertainties remain concerning the stratigraphic and chronological relationship of the Pure Florescent sites of the Puuc area with the Classic Maya centers to the south. Briefly, the question is the absolute dating of the Puuc florescence and whether these sites are contemporaneous with or later than the southern centers of the Late Classic period. These important stratigraphic and chronological problems remain because of a lack of problem orientation characteristic of much of the archaeological work in Yucatán. The availability of historical sources bears some responsibility, because even before major archaeological work was attempted in the area, PreColumbian histories of Yucatán were written based on Spanish writings and native chronicles (Morley 1911, 1917). The detailed histories that could be produced by using these sources led to less problem orientation in archaeological investigations than would be expected even in those early years, simply because historical answers were available to questions that should have been asked of archaeology. It was on the basis of these sources that Morley came to believe the Puuc sites represented a cultural renaissance following the collapse of the Classic Maya centers of the southern lowlands. This interpretation, that the Puuc centers represented a Maya florescence in the northern lowlands following the collapse of the southern sites, remained the dominant view for many years. Beginning in the late 1930’s, based on epigraphic and ceramic evidence, and with a new interpretation of the historical documents, J. Eric Thompson championed the view that the Puuc sites were essentially contemporaneous with the Late Classic sites of the southern lowlands (Thompson 1937, 1941; Brainerd 1941). Thompson stated his conclusion strongly in a later paper (1945:8): It is now amply clear that this style does not represent a renaissance of Maya culture but is contemporaneous with the great buildings of the central area which flourished in the classical age. Thompson’s latest statement on this subject reaffirmed his earlier writings (1970a: 3-47). Until a few years ago there was little to disturb the complacent acceptance of the ThompsonBrainerd interpretation of the archaeology of the northern lowlands, except a disquieting paucity of Late Classic trade wares and Maya long count dates associated with Puuc architecture. The archaeological fly in the ointment has since come with the excavations by E. Wyllys Andrews IV at Dzibilchaltún, one of the longest continuously inhabited sites in northern Yucatán (1960,

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Architecture and Chronology at Chichén Itzá, Yucatán  

Architecture and Chronology at Chichén Itzá, Yucatán