Rockshelter Excavations in the Caves Branch River Valley


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Research Reports in Belizean Archaeology

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Research by the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance project during the summers of 2005 and 2006 focused on the excavation of the Caves Branch Rockshelter, as well as the initial surveying and test pitting of other sites in the surrounding river valley. The data from the Caves Branch Rockshelter suggest that a small farmingcommunity used it as a cemetery sometime during the Protoclassic period, after which other local groupsoccasionally visited it. The skeletal population from the cemetery includes both sexes and all age groups, includinga high ratio of infants. These demographic proportions are typical of pre-industrial societies, though are rarely found at Maya sites because of cultural bias in mortuary patterning at complex urban centers. The age and sexratios of the skeletal population, as well as the lack of signs of social complexity in this early, rural community,suggest that this context may contain a relatively complete population that could serve as a skeletal reference population, thus aiding in future bioarchaeological studies of the ancient Maya.

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