A Quarter-Century of Exploring the Three Rivers Watersheds in Belize


The Programme for Belize Archaeological Project is situated in the heart of the Three Rivers Watersheds, drained by the Rio Bravo, Booth's River, and Rio Azul/Blue Creek in Northwestern Belize. These three river systems, along with groundwater, springs, and wetlands, nurture what is today the tropical rainforest refuge of the Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area, active farming communities, and long ago sustained multiple ancient Maya communities such as La Milpa, Dos Hombres, Chawak But'o'ob, Maax Na, Blue Creek, Grey Fox, and others. Comparatively little is known about tropical river systems in Central America. The Three Rivers have been an ideal laboratory in which to study the availability and quality of water for ancient Maya communities, the hydrologic advantages and challenges faced in the past, and to understand the sustainability of these resources for today’s inhabitants. This paper traces ancient Maya water use research undertaken over the last quarter-century, and offers insights gained from multiple environmental methods and proxies, including water chemistry, sediment chemistry, geoarchaeology, and remote sensing studies including a 2016 LiDAR survey.

Cite this Record

A Quarter-Century of Exploring the Three Rivers Watersheds in Belize. Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Timothy Beach, Nicholas Dunning, Vernon Scarborough, Fred Valdez, Jr.. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431535)


Belize hydrology Maya

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17196