The political appropriation of caves in the Upper Belize Valley


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date



Thesis, from the Department of Anthropology at California State University-Los Angeles. The problem of associating caves with specific centers or polities has been a problem in the field of cave archaeology for some time. This thesis explores new methods for documenting the political appropriation of caves distant from centers in the Belize River Valley during the Late Classic Maya period (A.D 590 to 890). It focuses on polities that may have been utilizing Barton Creek Cave and draws on methods developed in settlement archaeology for assessing relationships between small sites and large centers and for defining political boundaries. Specifically, the thesis examines several ceramic types whose distribution in the Belize Valley is thought to follow political boundaries. Examination of the ceramic sample at Barton Creek Cave suggests that it is affiliated with a polity in the eastern part of the Belize Valley. Analyses of ceramic data from other caves in the valley support this claim and demonstrate that several different patterns are evident. These three patterns are as follows: 1) caves can be affiliated with one single polity through time; 2) caves may be in contested areas and that their affiliation changes over time as political powers expand and diminish; and 3) caves are in politically neutral areas and accessible by multiple political entities.

Document Type