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Human-climate-landscape interactions within the Rio Blanco Basin, Southern Belize

Author(s): Jessica Thompson ; Clayton Meredith ; Christopher Merriman ; Megan Walsh ; Keith Prufer

Year: 2015

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Summary

Excavations of alluvial terraces along the Rio Blanco, near the Maya site of Uxbenká in southern Belize, Toledo District, record Holocene human impacts and sediment aggradation from the pre-ceramic through the modern period. Assuming sediment aggradation rates on the terraces are inversely related to basin-wide hill slope erosion allows us to develop a landscape evolution model during the Holocene and investigate possible anthropogenic vs. climatic effects on the landscape. Radiocarbon dates and soil profiles from several units on the Holocene terraces adjacent to the Rio Blanco define periods of landscape stability followed by rapid aggradation. Our results suggest that sediment aggradation rates, and hence erosion of the landscape, was highest during the Middle Holocene and is coincident with the transition to sedentary communities and the adoption of agriculture. Erosion rates and the consequent sediment aggradation rates on the terraces were lower during the Classic Maya period until the present. Our study suggests anthropogenic influences, rather than climate alone, lead to widespread erosion of the landscape during the Middle Holocene.

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Human-climate-landscape interactions within the Rio Blanco Basin, Southern Belize. Jessica Thompson, Christopher Merriman, Clayton Meredith, Keith Prufer, Megan Walsh. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397967)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


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