Friday, March 2, 2012

Site Sizes

A useful way to look at archaeological sites is to measure the extent of their surface area. This article, evolving over time, will document the number of hectares (abbreviated ha) encompassed by selected sites as a way of comparing and contrasting their size. 1 hectare = 10,000 square meters or an area 100 meters X 100 meters (2.47 acres). Most recent update 01/13/2016.

Finca Acapulco, Chiapas 27 ha. Mary E. Pye and John E. Clark, "Los Olmecas Son Mixe-Zoques: Contribuciones de Gareth W. Lowe a La Arqueologia del Formativo" en XIX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala, 2005, editado por J.P. Laporte, B. Arroyo y H. Mejia. Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia, Guatemala.

Tzutzuculi, Tonala Municipality, Chiapas 35 ha, Andrew J. McDonald, Tzutzuculi: A Middle-Preclassic Site on the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, Mexico, Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, Number 47, Provo: Brigham Young University, 1983

La Libertad, Chiapas 49 ha. 750 - 500 B.C. Mary E. Pye and John E. Clark, "Los Olmecas Son Mixe-Zoques: Contribuciones de Gareth W. Lowe a La Arqueologia del Formativo" en XIX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala, 2005, editado por J.P. Laporte, B. Arroyo y H. Mejia. Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia, Guatemala. The map in Donald E. Miller "Excavations at La Libertad, a Middle Formative Ceremonial Center in Chiapas, Mexico" Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation Number Sixty-Four, Provo: BYU (2014) Figure 1.6 is approx. 640 X 800 Meters (50 ha.) in size.

Jerusalem in 598 BC when the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar invaded. 50 ha, estimated population 10,000. Margreet L. Steiner, Excavations in Jerusalem by K. M. Kenyon 1961-67, Vol. III: The Settlement in the Bronze and Iron Ages. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001). Steiner is one of the editors of the Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant published by Oxford University Press.

Chaak Ak' al 100 BC to AD 300 50 ha. This is a conservative estimate. The site is probably larger. Kevin J. Johnston (2006). Preclassic Maya Occupation of the Itzan Escarpment, Lower Rio de la Pasion, Peten, Guatemala in Ancient Mesoamerica, 17, pp 177-201.

Matacapan, Veracruz, 50 ha. AD 300 - 450. Between AD 450 - 600 the site expanded to 700 ha.
Christopher A. Pool & Wesley Stoner, El Fenomeno Teotihuacano en Tres Zapotes y Matacapan, Una Discusion Comparativa, INAH, 2004

Santa Rosa, Chiapas, 54 ha, Augustin Delgado, Archaeological Research at Santa Rosa, Chiapas, Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, Number 17, Provo: Brigham Young University, 1965). Site map documents 31 mounds in an area 600 X 900 meters. Santa Rosa is a popular candidate for the Nephite city of Zarahemla.

Iglesia Vieja, Tonala Municipality, Chiapas 60 ha, Akira Kaneko, INAH. "Investigacion Arqueologica en la Region Tonala de la Costa del Pacifico de Chiapas" in J.P. Laporte, B. Arroyo and H. Mejia, XXII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala, 2008, Guatemala City: Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia, 2009   

Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas, 70 ha, Bruce R. Bachand, "Chiapa de Corzo: Rise of a Zoque Capital in the Heart of Mesoamerica" in Popular Archaeology Vol. 3, June 2011. Also in Mary E. Pye and John E. Clark, "Los Olmecas Son Mixe-Zoques: Contribuciones de Gareth W. Lowe a La Arqueologia del Formativo" en XIX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala, 2005, editado por J.P. Laporte, B. Arroyo y H. Mejia. Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia, Guatemala. Lucia Henderson in her 2013 dissertation states that Chiapa de Corzo exceeded 400 ha.

Laguna de los Cerros, Veracruz, 150 ha, Christopher A. Pool, Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. The site was this size ca. 1,200 B.C. By 1,000 B.C., a number of satellite sites including the stone carving workshop Llano del Jicaro had expanded the urban area to approximately 300 ha.

Pomona, Tabasco, 175 ha, vigorous occupations in late pre-classic and late classic, one of the relatively few Maya sites with its own emblem glyph, 3 rank 1 sites (EAAMS nomenclature) within 90 air kilometers: Palenque, Piedras Negras, and Yaxchilan, on-site museum maintained by INAH

Nueva Esperanza/Calatraba, Chiapas, 200 ha, unexcavated site with 68+ mounds. Reconnaissance by V. Garth Norman September, 2006. 42 air kilometers from Palenque, 43 air kilometers from Pomona.

La Venta, Tabasco, 200 ha, Bruce R. Bachand, "Chiapa de Corzo: Rise of a Zoque Capital in the Heart of Mesoamerica" in Popular Archaeology Vol. 3, June 2011

El Tigre aka Itzamkanac, Campeche 380 ha. INAH.

Ake, Tixkokob, Yucatan, 400 ha, Lawrence Roys and Edwin M. Shook, Preliminary Report on the Ruins of Ake, Yucatan, Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology, No. 20, Salt Lake City, 1966

El Ujuxte, Retalhuleu, Guatemala more than 400 ha. Lucia Henderson, 2013 dissertation.

Chalchuapa, El Salvador more than 400 ha. Lucia Henderson, 2013 dissertation.

Izapa, Chiapas more than 400 ha. Lucia Henderson, 2013 dissertation.

Kaminaljuyu (KJ), Guatemala. 500 ha. in the ceremonial core. 200 structures. Kitty F. Emery, Erin K. Thornton, Nicole R. Cannarozzi, Stephen Houston, Hector Escobedo, "Archaeological Animals of the Southern Maya Highlands: Zooarchaeology of Kaminaljuyu" in Archaeology of Mesoamerican Animals, edited by C. Gotz & K. Emery, Georgia: Lockwood Press (2013). Lucia Henderson in her 2013 UT Austin Dissertation says KJ was 800 - 1,000 ha.

Mayapan, Yucatan 530 ha, 4,000 residential structures within the city walls.

Takalik Abaj, Retalhuleu 650 ha, Christa Schieber de Lavarreda reported in May 2004 National Geographic.

El Tintal, Mirador Basin, Peten, 900 ha (mapped to date), Richard D. Hansen, et al, "Investigaciones Arqueologicas en el Sitio Tintal, Peten" in XIX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala, 2005, edited by Juan Pedro Laporte, et al, Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia de Guatemala

Chocola, Solola and Suchitepequez, 3 structure groups 6 X 2 kilometers = 1,200 ha. PACH Proyecto Arqueologico Chocola

Cantona, Puebla, 1,400 ha, estimated population at apogee 80,000. Occupied from 200 BC to AD 1,000 according to recent INAH excavations.

Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala. 1,400 ha. at apogee ca. AD 100. Francisco Estrada-Belli, The First Maya Civilization, London and New York: Routledge, 2011, p. 22.

Cahokia near St. Louis was the largest urbanization north of Mexico. It reached apogee ca. A.D. 1,100 and collapsed ca. A.D. 1,300. 1,450 ha estimated population 20,000. 200 mounds. Thomas Emerson, Director, Illinois State Archaeological Survey.

El Mirador, Peten 1,600 ha. Bertina Olmedo Vera, The Mayas of the Classic Period, edited by Alfonso Arellano Hernandez et al., Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Editoriale Jaca, INAH, UNAM, MNA, 1999.

Tula, Hidalgo 1,600 ha.  maximum extension ca. 600 AD - 1,200 AD. Estimated population at apogee 60,000 to 80,000. Martha Garcia Sanchez, INAH.

Calakmul, Campeche 2,000 ha, estimated population at apogee 50,000, known radius of political hegemony - 150 kilometers.

Teotihuacan, Mexico 2,000 ha. in the urban core. Estimated population at apogee more than 100,000.

Tikal, Peten 2,400 ha, estimated population at apogee 100,000.

Teotihuacan, Mexico 3,000 ha. in the entire city. Population estimates at apogee range from 150,000 to 250,000.

El Mirador, Peten 5,200 ha. estimated population at apogee 200,000. Richard Hansen lecture, University of Utah, October 16, 2015.

Article last updated September 25, 2017.