WIT Press

Analyses of buildings with base-to-ridge posts in the northern part of Mesoamerica


Free (open access)

Paper DOI



Volume 1 (2017), Issue 4



Page Range

730 - 750




The objective of our project is to clarify the patterns of inheritance and the dissemination of wooden construction technologies on a global scale. For this objective, we took base-to-ridge posts in the northern Mesoamerica region as a sample of wooden construction. We analysed the characteristics of them and explored what those characteristics suggest in the context of inheritance and dissemination. The term ‘base-to-ridge posts’ here refers to posts that rise from the ground to provide direct support of the ridge. Mesoamerica is an important region in understanding the architectural history and traditions of Native Americans. In 2013, the authors conducted a field study on buildings with base-to-ridge posts in several countries in the northern part of Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala and Belize) in order to obtain broader knowledge of the buildings in the region. The field study consisted of the following: (1) visual observation of buildings from the window of moving cars; (2) close observation and photog- raphy; (3) actual measurements; and (4) interviews.

We analysed the details of these 24 buildings according to the indices we set. As a result, we obtained a representative model of these 24 buildings and identified the following traits: gabled roof; non-natural roof material; without mortises; earth-fast posts; round, unpeeled logs with y-shaped tops; ridge-supporting posts consisting solely of base-to-ridge posts; three base-to-ridge posts; used as a shed; agricultural occupation; built by non-specialists; and built in or after 2000. We found that, among the twelve factors we identified as typical traits of the buildings with base-to-ridge posts in the area, as many as six reflected rudimentary technologies or were related to older lifestyles. Thus, as this repre- sentative model with its traits shows, buildings with base-to-ridge posts preserve many old architectural characteristics with simple appearances that are easy to recognize and are easy to build without professional techniques to be handed over from generation to generation.

Because of these characteristics, knowledge of buildings with base-to-ridge posts is easy to transmit and has the inherent power to spread. This power is based on the basic structure of this architectural style that can be learned by visual observation. The buildings with base-to-ridge posts in the northern part of the Mesoamerica region preserve the old techniques while being inherited, spreading, built, and maintained – they are an ‘active architectural heritage’ alive and practised today.


actual field study, base-to-ridge post, Belize, dissemination, Guatemala, earth-fast post, inheritance, Mesoamerica, Mexico.