Regional perspective of ancient Maya burial patterns in northwest Belize, Central America
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In this dissertation I address common trends in ancient Maya burials recovered through excavations of the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project (PfBAP) in northwest Belize. The scope of this research includes 123 individuals (of the approximately 150 individuals that have been recovered through PfBAP excavations) from 12 different archaeological sites and 1,200 years of prehistoric Maya society (spanning from 400 B.C. until A.D. 900). My examination combines osteological and contextual information from these human burials in a bioarchaeological analysis of Maya mortuary practices. Biological sex, age at death, grave type, body positioning, grave goods, and other characteristics are compared across three main categories represented in the data: Site Type, Time Period, and Geographic Region. Additional data comparisons included in this dissertation consider the various burial characteristics mentioned above by sex and age at death of the decedents. By collecting and compiling 25 years’ worth of PfBAP burial data, this analysis successfully identified various trends in Maya burial practices in northwest Belize, many of which present opportunities for further research in the regard for life and death among these prehistoric peoples of Central America.