The journal publishes original, peer reviewed papers on the archaeology, prehistory, and ethno history of Belize. Papers may also treat more general theoretical and methodological issues with relevance to Maya archaeology. Tables and illustrations should be limited to those that are appropriate and necessary. Morris et al. Chase and Arlen F.

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The journal publishes original, peer reviewed papers on the archaeology, prehistory, and ethno history of Belize. Papers may also treat more general theoretical and methodological issues with relevance to Maya archaeology. Tables and illustrations should be limited to those that are appropriate and necessary.

Morris et al. Chase and Arlen F. Chase 3 2. Chase and Diane Z. Chase 15 3. Kathryn Brown 37 5. Horowitz 45 6. Hyde and Michael Stowe 55 7. Chase and Aubrey M. Chase 65 8. Chase, and Diane Z. Chase 77 9. Caves w ere t he Houses of t he Earth Lord, Right? Houk and Gregory Zaro Trein, Robyn L. Dodge and Fred Valdez, Jr. Walker Mixter and Lisa J.

LeCount Micheletti and Terry G. Powis Douglas, Linda J. Brown, and Jaime J. Awe Thompson and Keith M. Prufer Christian Wells Irish and Geoffrey E. Braswell Lucero Herndon, Gregory Zaro, Brett A. Sullivan and Fred Valdez, Jr. Sagebiel and Helen R. Haines Kosakowsky, Robin Robertson, and Debra S.

While the site was noted as early as , at the start of the Caracol Archaeological Project in , Caracol was barely mentioned in literature dealing with Maya research; its archaeology, urban scale, and influence in the Maya region were largely unknown. In , any comprehensive statement about the Classic Period in the Southern Maya lowlands includes reference to both the site and its impact. The longevity of the Caracol Archaeological Project is unusual f or the Maya area and the contribution of the Caracol archaeological data to our understanding of the ancient Maya has been substantial.

This paper presents an overview of the Caracol Archaeological Project and its results within the broader context of May a archaeology. It shows how the additive long term research at Caracol has permitted interpretations that would not be possible within a short time -frame.

It demonstrates the significance of Caracol archaeological data on the field of Maya studies, inclu ding many of the once controversial interpretations that were derived from the sites archaeological data. With thirty continuous years of research at Caracol, it is appropriate both to look at the past retrospectively and to consider the collected data prospectively for what remains to be accomplished within the field of Maya studies.

Introduction its hard to reconstruct how a society fell if we cant even agree on what kind of society it was Marcus Maya archaeology as carried out in is somewhat different from Maya archaeology as carried out in , the year in which we initially conceived of a longterm project at Caracol, Belize.

Not only has our conceptualization of Caracol the site changed but so too has our perception about the nature of ancient Maya society. And, our own personal views about the ancient Maya have also evolved as has the central place of Belize within changing interpretations of the field. In the late s when we firs t conducted research in Belize, very few projects were actively excavating within the country. British Honduras, as Belize was then called, was viewed as being largely peripheral to the archaeology of the Maya heartland to its west.

When we formally ini tiated excavations at Caracol in the Spring of , we brought with us a research design that incorporated a direct historic approach. We hoped to systematically move from the Historic Period back into earlier time periods. Both of us had undertaken act ive research on the Postclassic Period for our Ph. The archaeological investigations at both sites involved working from the Historic Period back into the recent past to compare an d contrast with the Postclassic Period material record.

Our project at Santa Rita Corozal ran from through and was able to link the Historic Period Maya with their Postclassic material remains through the use of ethnohistory and archaeology. To most effectively move back in time to the Classic Period, we felt that we needed to work at a site that manifested its own historical record and to similarly use the material remains in conjunction with the hieroglyphic record to define linkages and patte rns.

Thus, archaeological work at Caracol was seen by us as being a logical next step in our understanding the ancient Maya. Accordingly, in we began discussion with the Belize Department of Archaeology now the IOA about which site we would be the most appropriate for a longterm excavation project. Then archaeological commissioner Harriot Topsey brought us to Caracol, m anaging to drive all the way to the site epicenter in the early Fall of , something we could not accomplish on our own for many years to come because of the condition of what was deemed to be a road.

We would note, however, that, as we were leaving the site, Harriot paid a little too much attention to a rum bottle in the back of the Landrover and we ended up in a deep mud hole, which we fought with for more than 4 hours before digging ourselves out. Our first field season at Caracol occurred a year later in January , immediately followed by the last field season of the Corozal Postclassic Project in the Summer of Thus, the recently completed Spring represented our 30th consecutive season of excavation at Caracol.

The Ancient Maya through the lens of When we started at Caracol, there were major deba tes over how complex the ancient Maya were debates that continue today.

Positions in many of these debates were rooted in graduate training and archaeological heritage, something we colloquially referred to as the Harvard as opposed to the Penn trad itions.

The Harvard tradition was parodied at least at Penn as viewing the Maya as a two level society of priests and peasants occupying sites that were still sometimes considered to be vacant ceremonial centers. The Penn University of Pennsylvania t radition characterized ancient Maya society as more nuanced and complex with the major sites viewed as fully occupied ancient cities.

These different viewpoints were enabled by a relative lack of collected archaeological data that could fully support or dispute either position and because of the research efforts and scholars situated at these two institutions. In the social realm of the Maya was poorly understood. Not only were we arguing over whether or not the Maya were urban and had cities, but we were also debating whether stone palaces were actually used for residential purposes Thompson We were unsure about how big a Maya site was or how a Maya site was organized.

The relationships between the individuals on the stone monuments and the rest of the population were also not well understood. Whereas Thompson and his generation had seen the Maya as possibly governed by priests, the epigraphic breakthroughs of Proskouri akoff , , gave rise to ideas about dynasties and successive rulers who documented important events within their lives having to do with birth, accession, and the capture of captives through warfare.

But, how many levels were believed to hav e existed in ancient Maya society not only depended on ones background, but on interpretations of ethnohistory. Those with primary adherence to ethnohistory saw nobles and commoners Marcus , much like the then coeval European societies that existed at the time of contact. Those approaching the topic predominantly from excavation at larger sites suggested that the situation was more complex D.

Chase In spite of attempts to determine ritual elements in the archaeological record Marcus , religion was considered to be one of the most difficult areas to address through the use of archaeological data Hawkes Some scholars believed that Maya farmers and peasants engaged in a very basic form of ritual based on subsistence needs and tha t state level institutional religion was restricted to the elite Borhegyi Thompson suggested that the state religion of the ceremonial center had little appeal for the Maya peasant, whose interest lay in the simple agricultural cerem onies of his own small outlying community revolving around his own gods of the soil, of the hunt, and of the village under village prayer makers a purely folk PAGE 10 D.

Chase and A. Chase 5 religion. How widespread participation in institutional religion was in Maya society remain ed a matter of debate. Some scholars believed that the Maya had a general pantheon of gods like the Greeks and Romans Taube ; others did not Marcus ; Proskouriakoff However, once the existence of rulers was recognized in hieroglyphi c texts, other scholars argued that religion was centered on a cult of the king Freidel and Schele Ritual objects such as modeled ceramic incensarios were specifically linked to the celebration of ruling dynasties by some analysts Rice D efining the economic realm for the Classic Period proved exceedingly problematic in While there were early arguments for the presence of markets at Tikal W.

Coe , their existence was not firmly demonstrated in the archaeological record. Thus, it was unclear how goods were distributed throughout Maya society; there was an assumption of self sufficiency by the bulk of the population with only limited trade in necessary items e. Non local materials like obsidian were assumed to have been in the purview of the elite and not generally available to the general public.

However, some researchers argued that obsidian may have functioned as currency Freidel , Freidel and Reilly While jadeite and spondylus were also mentioned as potential items of currency based on historic texts, at the same time there was an assumption that these prestige items were only available to the elite e.

Polychrome ceramics and specifically polychrome cylinders Figure 2 were believed to have been restricted to the elite with the concomitant assumption that they were not used by general Maya society A.

Chase ; Coggins To some extent the remnants of this model continue in the Maya area with the emphasis that some researchers place on statusbased gifting Callahan ; Foias The nature of Maya subsistence systems was also evolving. While most agreed that slash and burn or milpa agriculture solely revolving around maize could not have supported the populations that were inferred for sites like Tikal Harrison , , the Figure 2 Polychrome figure cylinder recovered from a crypt interment in a Caracol residential group.

Most Mayanists assumed that intensive agriculture and multi cropping were employed to support the Classic Period Maya population Harrison and Turner However, it was unclear to what extent individual centers were self sufficient or whether agricultural products were differentially produced and traded.


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Ancient Maya Domestic Economy: Subsistence, Commerce and Industry






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