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Excavation of an Inundated Shell Midden: Methods and Preliminary Findings at a Classic Maya Saltwork

Author(s): Heather McKillop ; Valerie Feathers ; E. Cory Sills

Year: 2015

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The mangrove peat comprising the sea floor at the ancient Maya saltworks in Paynes Creek National Park, Belize, provides an ideal matrix for the preservation of wooden architecture. The acidic peat has preserved wood, charcoal, and botanicals at other inundated saltwork sites in the area. The unexpected discovery and subsequent excavation of an underwater shell midden at the Eleanor Betty Site in 2013 allowed for a greater comparison between the two matrices and their preservational properties. Although the peat matrix does not preserve bone, the calcium carbonate composition of the shell midden is suitable for such preservation. In this paper, we describe the excavation methods, screening, mapping, and preliminary results of this shallow submerged site. In addition, we address the wooden architecture and spatial distribution of the accompanying shell midden.

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Excavation of an Inundated Shell Midden: Methods and Preliminary Findings at a Classic Maya Saltwork. Valerie Feathers, Heather McKillop, E. Cory Sills. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397158)


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