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ering the Past: Analysis and Interpretation of a Terminal Classic Deposit at the Cahal Pech Terminus Group

Author(s): Steve Fox ; Claire Ebert ; Jaime Awe

Year: 2016

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The Terminal Classic (AD 750-900/1000) Maya "collapse" remains one of the least understood and most debated aspects in Maya archaeology. One characteristic feature of Terminal Classic contexts in the Belize Valley are large surficial ceramic deposits and are located in the corners of plazas, in front of stairs, and in the doorways of public architecture. These types of terminal deposits have been attributed to numerous activities including termination rituals, feasting events, refuse disposal in middens, or reoccupation by "squatters". We compare the location, composition, and interpretations of terminal deposits excavated at eight Maya sites in the Belize Valley. We use this comparison to analyze the function of a large terminal deposit excavated at the Zopilote Group, a terminus group connected to major Belize Valley polity of Cahal Pech. Based on the presence of ritually significant artifacts recovered from the deposit, as well as the close proximity to monumental architecture containing elite burials, we suggest that the Zopilote terminal deposit functioned as a place of ancestral worship after the site was abandoned. Comparison to ethnohistoric documentation of ritual acts of ancestor remembrance performed by the Lacandon Maya may provide a modern correlate with this archaeological interpretation.

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ering the Past: Analysis and Interpretation of a Terminal Classic Deposit at the Cahal Pech Terminus Group. Steve Fox, Claire Ebert, Jaime Awe. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405341)


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