Classic maya settlement clusters as urban neighborhoods: A comparative perspective on low-density urbanism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


Some archaeologists have suggested recently that clusters of houses at Classic Maya sites functioned as urban neighborhoods. This article presents comparative historical and ethnographic data from low-density cities to support this interpretation. I review two Mesoamerican cases: the Aztec calpolli and the modern Tzotzil house cluster; and urban clusters in two African cases: the Nupe city of Bida in West Africa and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. The kinds of social relationships, activities, and conditions that characterize neighborhoods in high-density cities are also found in the comparative examples of house clusters. This comparative information strengthens the argument that clusters of houses served as neighborhoods in Classic Maya cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-73
Number of pages23
JournalJournal de la Societe des Americanistes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011



  • Classic maya
  • Comparative analysis
  • Low-density cities
  • Neighborhoods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Cultural Studies

Cite this