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THE ORIGINS AND IDENTIFICATION OF THE EARLY MAYA FROM COLHA AND NORTHERN BELIZE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 December 2021

Fred Valdez Jr.*
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, WCP 4.102, 2201 Speedway Stop C3200, Austin, Texas78712, United States
Lauren A. Sullivan
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts at Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd, Boston, Massachusetts02125, United States
Palma J. Buttles
Affiliation:
Center for Archaeological and Tropical Studies, University of Texas at Austin, J.J. Pickle Research Campus, 10100 Burnet Rd, Austin, Texas78758, United States
Luisa Aebersold
Affiliation:
Center for Archaeological and Tropical Studies, University of Texas at Austin, J.J. Pickle Research Campus, 10100 Burnet Rd, Austin, Texas78758, United States
*
E-mail correspondence to: fredv@austin.utexas.edu

Abstract

Investigations concerning the earliest Maya have been of archaeological interest for many decades. Northern Belize serves as a valuable region for researching and understanding early Maya developments. In particular, the ancient Maya site of Colha in northern Belize is a focal point of some early developments beginning in the Archaic period. Select resources in the region, especially in the chert-bearing zone, clearly had been of great interest and attraction to populations extending back into Paleoindian and Archaic times, as well as the Maya period for Colha and other sites near the resource zone. With the appearance of pottery-producing settled villages is the common assertion that Maya societies are in place around 1000 b.c. Recent studies have identified much earlier occupants in the region with significant cultural developments, including semi-permanent occupation and horticulture occurring in the Late Archaic at approximately 3400 b.c. It seems plausible, perhaps likely by our assessment, that these Late Archaic people (or aceramic populations) may have been the earliest Maya communities. Factors of defining communities, aspects of horticulture, and the transition from the Archaic into the Preclassic are reviewed in consideration of—just who were the earliest Maya?

Type
Special Section: The Preceramic and Early Ceramic Periods in Belize and the Central Maya Lowlands
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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