Intensive excavations in settlement areas within greater Tikal generated far more than an understanding of the complex gradations of social classes at this lowland Maya site. Identification of a specific architectural pattern associated with relatively small shrines on the eastern side of certain residential groups, and of a distinctive mortuary program, provides a means by which a "plaza plan" can be predicted using good site maps alone. This discovery enabled archaeologists to predict locations for high-status burials in residential as well as in ceremonial areas.
Application of these findings at sites beyond Tikal has been demonstrated to be successful throughout the region and even beyond the Maya heartland. Identification of this "plaza plan" also has led us to recognize nine other architectural group plans at Tikal, providing a model for planning excavation strategies and developing theories of cultural change at Tikal and other Maya sites.
University Museum Monograph, 104