Preclassic Maya funerary patterns in northern Belize : an analysis of interment attributes from Colha, Cuello, and K'axob




Obledo, Micaela Nerio

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This dissertation presents an analysis of Preclassic period (1000 B.C. – A.D. 250) funerary attributes of three Maya sites in northern Belize, Central America: Colha, Cuello, and K’axob. The dataset is comprised of 133 interments from Colha, 131 interments from Cuello, and 98 interments from K’axob for a total of 362 Preclassic interments. Analysis has been conducted on a suite of 12 variables representative of this dataset and their interrelatedness: age, sex, artifact material type, artifact material form, cranial orientation, burial position or posture, functional designation of architecture in which an interment is placed, presence or absence of indications of burning, presence or absence of red mineral pigmentation, functional designation of artifacts, presence or absence of a cross motif, and presence or absence of a head cover (vessel covering the cranium). This research project has four main objectives: 1) provide a structured presentation of Preclassic interment data for Colha, Cuello, and K’axob, 2) present a thorough and cogent analysis of the interrelatedness of the suite of variables abovementioned, 3) document any significant trends and anomalies that are evidenced within the funerary attributes of these sites, and finally 4) to offer an interpretation of those patterns and deviations seen within the analysis as they relate to intrasite and intersite social differentiation and dynamics through the Preclassic. The analysis within this volume demonstrates that the elaboration and variation of interment attributes increase over time in Preclassic at the three sites of study. This is paralleled by a development of ritual and ceremonial architecture for public activities. Differential access to materials and forms is indicated throughout the Middle, Late and Terminal Preclassic, with the level of disparity between the apparent elite and non-elite increasing over time. Adult males are generally accompanied by higher numbers and a greater variety of goods than are females and subadults. This indicates a power and/or status differential between the two sexes and age groups, with male adults being the most highly esteemed individuals within the social stratification system. This study demonstrates the dynamic and multifaceted material representations with which Preclassic Maya of Northern Belize expressed their identity in death.




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