“Brings together for the first time all the major sites of this part of the Maya world and helps us understand how the ancient Maya planned and built their beautiful cities. It will become both a handbook and a source of ideas for other archaeologists for years to come.”—George J. Bey III, coauthor of Twin Tollans

“Skillfully integrates the social histories of urban development.”—Vernon L. Scarborough, author of The Flow of Power: Ancient Water Systems and Landscapes

“Any scholar interested in urban planning and the built environment will find this book engaging and useful.”—Lisa J. Lucero, author of Water and Ritual


Today we are pleased to announce the publication of Brett Houk’s Ancient Maya Cities of the Eastern LowlandsHis book covers sites that many researchers have often overlooked in favor of studying the more well-known Classic period sites of Tikal, Palenque, Copán, and Chichén Itzá. Yet the cities of the eastern lowlands of Belize held a rich urban tradition that persisted and evolved for almost 2,000 years. The hot and humid climate and dense forests are inhospitable and make preservation of the ruins difficult, but this oft-ignored area reveals much about Maya urbanism and culture.

Using data collected from different sites throughout the lowlands, including the Vaca Plateau and the Belize River Valley, Brett Houk presents the first synthesis of these unique ruins and discusses methods for mapping and excavating them. Considering the sites through the analytical lenses of the built environment and ancient urban planning, Houk vividly reconstructs their political history, considers how they fit into the larger political landscape of the Classic Maya, and examines what they tell us about Maya city building.

Houk at the UPF booth at SAA
Houk at SAA

At the recent meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, we completely sold out of copies of Houk’s title. We managed to snap his picture with the last copy, not long before someone snatched it up.

Houk is associate professor of archaeology and the Chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Texas Tech University. He recently won the 2015 Professing Excellence Award given by Texas Tech to honor his exceptional educational skills. He continues to specialize in Maya studies, with an ongoing research project in Belize: the Chan Chich Archaeological Project.

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