Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The GIS of Plaza B represents the application of GIS in the analysis of buildings. The GIS contains information on six structures and recreates the development of the royal residential plaza at the ancient Maya site of Altun Ha, in northern Belize. Altun Ha is a small site with a long history of occupation, rich in architectural and artifactual forms. The major site expansion and development started in the end of the Early Classic (A. D. 400) with the emergence of the institution of kingship at the site. Two adjunct plazas, A and B, formed the largest ceremonial –residential complex in the center of the site. This thesis analyzed the layout of the residential plaza and the dynamics of change in the access patterns within the structures. The study of the layout revealed that in spite of the seeming informality, the layout of Plaza B was carefully planned. The access patterns and shape of residential structures showed that one of them was used as a residential- administrative building, and another most likely have been strictly residential. The architecture of the plaza’s funerary shrine recreated stories from Maya mythology and symbolized the connection between ancestors and descendants. The changes in the access patterns within the structures of Plaza B, around A. D. 700, paralleled by the changes in tomb and cache placement practices, supported the hypothesis about the change in the succession line of the ruling family that led to the gradual degradation of the central power at Altun Ha and eventual abandonment of the site. The GIS of Plaza B proved to be an excellent information base and valuable tool for data analysis. It allowed representation of the plaza structures as a complex of interconnected dynamic entities. This unified representation, in turn, allowed formulation of the hypothesis about social changes that triggered changes in architecture.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Heather McKillop