Does Size Matter? Comparing Cave Size to Degree of Modification Outside their Entrances

Author(s): Marieka Arksey

Year: 2016


Over the past three years, investigations of over fifty ritual cave sites across the country of Belize by the Las Cuevas Archaeological Reconnaissance Project and the Belize Cave Research Project have yielded surprising findings: at least nine of the caves have modifications or construction directly outside of the entrances. These modifications took place for the first and only time during the Late Classic, a centuries-long period characterized by droughts, overpopulation, the failure of Maya kingship, and a complete restructuring of the social hierarchy in the Maya Lowlands. Thus, these modifications – clearly associated with sacred features of the ritual landscape – are an ideal paradigm from which to question how ritual practices were potentially used to reinforce social rules and norms during a time of social and political crisis. However, these studies have revealed a puzzling variation in the forms and degrees of modification seen during this time period. This paper will present some of the preliminary results of analysis attempting to correlate the size of cave with the forms and degree of constructions outside their entrances in an effort to approach the potential functions that these spaces may have afforded the ancient Maya.

Cite this Record

Does Size Matter? Comparing Cave Size to Degree of Modification Outside their Entrances. Marieka Arksey. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403352)


Cave Collapse Ritual

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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