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  • Writer's pictureKacey C Grauer

Active environments: Relational ontologies of landscape at the ancient Maya city of Aventura, Belize

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A holistic and relational approach to landscape amplifies understandings of the complexities of human–environment relationships. This article examines ecological and social aspects of landscape at the ancient Maya city of Aventura, Belize, in the context of relational ontologies. The city of Aventura is enmeshed with microenvironments known as pocket bajos, and I argue that pocket bajos defy categorization as natural or cultural. By exploring their spatial context, material content, and associated activities that create cosmological connections, I demonstrate that the pocket bajos were active social agents in the construction of the city and the maintenance of community. The relations that people living at Aventura established with pocket bajos highlight the interconnectedness of humans with the environment, and this approach avoids projecting current-day Western categories of nature and culture onto the past.

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