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Waste not, want not: A multi-proxy perspective on soil formation at Marco Gonzalez, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Author(s): Elizabeth Graham ; Lindsay Duncan

Year: 2015

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Set in a coastal wetland environment, Marco Gonzalez—to paraphrase the session abstract—is a repository of sediments, fauna, artefacts and plant remains, pertinent to an understanding of human-environment interactions. Marco Gonzalez is also an area of naturally occurring coral sand, grasses and sedges that has been transformed over time into cultivable land. Our preliminary results indicate, however, an inadvertent, rather than planned, transformation. Nonetheless, the site can be characterised by a distinctive interaction of nature and culture that could be classed as anthropogenic.

This presentation examines the contribution of different proxies to an understanding of soil formation at the site by identifying the nature of occupation and characterising the fabric of cultural detritus. These proxies include archaeobotany to detail the important black carbon component, compositional analysis of artefacts and quantification of cultural materials. These data create a profile of available ‘parent’ materials which can be compared to known soil chemical and physical characteristics for potential delineation of cultural input. In this way, our current research aims to elucidate factors that contributed to soil formation processes in a setting in which transformation of a marginal area is connected directly to human modification and intensive, long-term habitation and exploitative activity.

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Waste not, want not: A multi-proxy perspective on soil formation at Marco Gonzalez, Ambergris Caye, Belize. Lindsay Duncan, Elizabeth Graham. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396172)


Environment Maya Soils

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America