La Milpa

La Milpa was a small site during the Late Preclassic and Early Classic periods. Located on a hilltop consisting of a few pyramids, one reservoir, and a few stelae in Orange Walk Belize. Excavations within Plaza A revealed a few monuments that date to this period indicating a growing population and therefore a need for increased space. The northern plaza was also occupied during this period. It was the foci of funerary monumental construction, which has led to the interpretation the dead were buried near the main population. The only other signs of occupation during this time can be seen in the alteration of the surrounding landscapes, such as construction of terraces.

During the Early Classic Period La Milpa saw significant growth in the production of monumental constructions the site center. The stelae also reflected change, indicating a shift towards political states with institutionalized royalty and a strong stable political system. These changes reflect the growing political complexity as resource management became a tool of the state due to the increasing population density. In particular, power was negotiated by rulership through the ability to control the agriculture and the environment. Despite the growth of the site population and density during the Early Classic Period, La Milpa was able to sustain a large population; however, there is a marked pause in the culturalism of the Maya within this region during the Middle Classic Period.

At La Milpa during the mid-8th century, there was a steep upward climb in the construction of monumental architecture and the dedication of stelae. This increase in activity can be directly related to the change in settlement patterns outside of the site core. The Petén-centric site plan became the site pattern for the main plaza of sites within the Three Rivers Basin. With this Petén-centric site plan, there is a regrowth in populations and elite centers.

Along with the change in site plan patterns, there is also the construction of two ballcourts within the site. These ballcourts were designed with a specific layout that would orient them from north to south and west to east. While there was a cultural revitalization and a burst in population, the revitalization only lasted for a short while.Following the revitalization in the Late Classic Period, La Milpa and the surrounding sites experienced decline and eventually collapse along with the rest of the Maya realm. The collapse at La Milpa appears to have been rapid as indicated by the partial completion of monumental constructions along with other signs of sudden abandonment in the archaeological record.While the site has been subjected to numerous archaeological investigations, La Milpa remains largely unexplored.