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Sea-level Rise at an Inundated Ancient Maya Salt Work: New Information from the Eleanor Betty Site, Paynes Creek National Park, Belize

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

Year: 2017

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Summary

Underwater excavations were performed at Eleanor Betty in 2013 to assess sea-level rise, map preserved wooden architecture, and investigate the inundated shell midden associated with the site. A total of 39 sediment samples were subjected to loss-on ignition (the burning of sediment to obtain the percent of organic matter present) and microscopically sorted in order to identify and analyze organic and inorganic matter. All samples were high in organic content and contained an abundance of fine red mangrove roots (Rhizophora mangle), a proxy for sea-level rise. Red mangroves keep pace with sea-level rise and fall. Once the rate of sea-level rise outpaces the growth of the mangroves, the mangroves stop rising vertically and start to trap leaves and other organic matter, forming detritus and peat. The results of the analyses indicate Eleanor Betty was built on the mangroves and inundated due to sea-level rise. Two R. mangle samples from the top and bottom layer of the shell midden were submitted for AMS dating in order to date the rate of sea-level rise. In this paper, we report on the dates and rate of sea-level rise for Eleanor Betty and, by proxy, other salt works in Paynes Creek National Park.


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Cite this Record

Sea-level Rise at an Inundated Ancient Maya Salt Work: New Information from the Eleanor Betty Site, Paynes Creek National Park, Belize. Valerie Feathers, Heather McKillop, E. Cory Sills, Rachel Watson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431478)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15595

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America