Maya mortuary landscapes, Central Belize

Gabriel Wrobel, Amy Michael, Jack Biggs, Christophe Helmke, Shawn Morton & Christopher Andres

Abstract

Abstract image

The Central Belize Archaeological Survey (CBAS) was initiated in 2005 as a sub-project of the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance project (BVAR; directed by Jaime Awe) to investigate the prehistoric Maya cemetery site of Caves Branch Rockshelter. Subsequently, we began to survey other nearby cave and rockshelter sites (Hardy 2009) and to excavate the monumental civic-ceremonial centre of Deep Valley (Jordan 2008). CBAS became an independent project in 2009, with an increasing focus on sites in the neighbouring Roaring Creek Valley. This slight geographic shift was in part intended to expand bioarchaeological investigations to include dark zone cave contexts identified during the late 1990s by BVAR's Western Belize Regional Cave Project. In the area around these caves, we identified two large, previously unreported civic-ceremonial centres and a network of raised roads (sacbeob) connecting them and other sites. Our survey and excavations at Tipan Chen Uitz have yielded evidence that it was a regional capital with ties to powerful foreign polities, as attested by the discovery of multiple carved stone monuments (see Andres et al. 2014; Helmke & Andres 2015; Andres et al. in press in Antiquity). We have also continued our investigations of mortuary rockshelters, including Sapodilla Rockshelter in the Caves Branch Valley.


Authors

  • Gabriel Wrobel
    Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, 655 Auditorium Drive, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA (Email: wrobelg [at] msu.edu)
  • Amy Michael
    Department of Anthropology, Idaho State University, 921 S. 8th Avenue, Pocatello, ID 83209, USA (Email: michae76 [at] msu.edu)
  • Jack Biggs
    Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, 655 Auditorium Drive, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA (Email: biggsjac [at] msu.edu)
  • Christophe Helmke
    Institute for Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Karen Blixens Plads 8, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark (Email: cgbh [at] hum.ku.dk)
  • Shawn Morton
    Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, 5 E. McConnell Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA (Email: shawn.morton [at] nau.edu)
  • Christopher Andres
    Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, 655 Auditorium Drive, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA (Email: kipandres [at] hotmail.com)
X