added by archaeologs Complex of monumental buildings which formed the hub of religious and civic activities in the prehistoric New World. Permanent residence was restricted to a very few, usually the elite and their retainers, and a regionally dispersed population visited the site on a periodic (possibly seasonal) basis. Many prominent sites in Mesoamerica, such as Teotihuacan, Tikal and Monte Alban, have been interpreted as ceremonial centres. However, subsequent fieldwork beyond the major architectural features has shown that many sites were directly associated with large populations and thus challenges the original premise of the ceremonial centre. Although the term is employed a good deal less frequently today, there are nonetheless important sites to which it may still apply, for example La Venta and San Lorenzo.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983