Wild Cane Cay, Southern Belize: Major Classic to Postclassic Maya Trading Port

Author(s): Heather McKillop

Year: 2015


A natural harbor, strategic location in the mouth of a navigable river and opposite the Paynes Creek salt works, Wild Cane Cay developed from a fishing village in the Early Classic (A.D. 300-600) to a major trading port from the Late Classic (A.D. 600-900) through the Postclassic (A.D. 900-1500). As skilled mariners, the Wild Cane Cay Maya were familiar with the shoals, storms, and other hazards of the sea, as well as the endless opportunities for travel on the sea. During the Classic period, sea trade along the Yucatan brought jadeite and other greenstones, obsidian and pottery from the Maya highlands of Guatemala, the Rio Motagua, and from Honduras, visible on a clear day. Wild Cane Cay likely brokered the inland trade of marine resources, including salt from the Paynes Creek salt works, as well as jadeite, obsidian, and other resources from sea trade. With the abandonment of nearly inland cities at the end of the Classic period, the Paynes Creek salt works were abandoned. The mercantile Maya on Wild Cane Cay took advantage of emerging polities in the northern Maya lowlands, the expansion of circum-Yucatan sea trade, and expanded their repertoire of goods from nearby and distant sources.

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Cite this Record

Wild Cane Cay, Southern Belize: Major Classic to Postclassic Maya Trading Port. Heather McKillop. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396583)


Economy Maya Trade

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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