Caves Branch Caves: Archaeological Field Report


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From 1994 to 1996, excavations have been carried out in the Caves Branch Region of Belize. This area is well known for the existence of many caves such as Petroglyph, Pothunters, Satabe, Footprints, St. Margaret’s Cave and others. Until now, little archaeological investigations have been done in the many caves in Caves Branch Region. The most important past work was conducted by Dorie Reents-Budet and Barbara MacLeod (Reents 1980, 1981; Reents and MacLeod, 1986) in Petroglyph Cave. Elizabeth Graham, Logan MacNatt and Mark Gutchen excavated in Footprint Cave (1980) and other investigators have focused their attention in the geology and morphology of Caves Branch Region. Nevertheless, extensive investigations have not been done for almost twenty years. The initial goal of the work reported here was to retrieve data about a looted cave with evidence of burials. However, a later reconnaissance of this area allowed us to identify other caves, increasing both our knowledge and interest. After three seasons of work, we have developed the hypothesis that different caves within a small geographic area served specialized functions in the various rituals carried out by a single Maya community. A previously developed cave typology (Bonor, 1989:19-26) has proven to be a useful tool to evaluate what kind of activities were done in the various Maya caves without excavating them. The three caves above discussed are Caves Branch Rock Shelter (C.B.R.S.), Te Tun Cave and Pottery Cave, all located North of the Hummingbird Highway (Cayo District, Belize). Although these caves are known to several people, I will not give their exact location due to the very real risk of looting. I am sure that looters also read scientific journals.

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