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A New Radiocarbon Sequence from Lamanai, Belize: Two Bayesian Models from One of Mesoamerica’s Most Enduring Sites

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 July 2016

Jonathan A Hanna*
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, 409 Carpenter Building, University Park, PA 16802
Elizabeth Graham
Affiliation:
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK
David M Pendergast
Affiliation:
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK
Julie A Hoggarth
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97173, Waco, TX 76798
David L Lentz
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, 614 Rieveschl Hall, Cincinnati, OH 45221
Douglas J Kennett
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Institutes of Energy and the Environment, 409 Carpenter Building, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
*
*Corresponding author. Email: jah1147@psu.edu.

Abstract

The ancient Maya community of Lamanai, Belize, is well known for its span of occupation from the Early Preclassic (before 1630 BC) to the present. Although most centers in the central and southern Maya Lowlands were abandoned during the Terminal Classic period (AD 750–1000), ceramic and stratigraphic evidence at Lamanai has shown continuous occupation from the start of the Early Preclassic to the Spanish Conquest. In this paper, we present the first complete set of radiocarbon dates from this important site, including 19 new accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C dates. We use these dates to build Bayesian models for a Terminal Classic structure and an Early Postclassic structure in the site center. This method assists in the refinement of older, conventional dates and provides key chronological information about the site during this volatile time. Adjustments to the standard, uniform distribution model are made using exponential, long-tail, and trapezoidal distributions to incorporate outlier samples and more accurately portray ceramic phases. Because of changes in construction behavior in the Terminal Classic, it is difficult to acquire primary samples from this period, but there remains enough overlap between dates and ceramic phases to deduce persistent occupation at Lamanai during the transition from Late Classic to Postclassic times.

Type
Research Article
Information
Radiocarbon , Volume 58 , Issue 4 , December 2016 , pp. 771 - 794
Copyright
© 2016 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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