Testing the Stratigraphic Integrity of Shallow Deposits through Zooarchaeology at Lamanai, Belize

Author(s): Arianne Boileau

Year: 2018


Identifying formation processes of shallow archaeological sites can be difficult. At Lamanai, Belize, the main problem consists of distinguishing between pre- and post-Spanish contact deposits buried at a depth of 10 to 60 cm. Evidence of interaction with the Spanish includes a few European objects and two Christian churches. However, identifying pre-contact deposits is more challenging. Maya archaeologists typically rely on ceramic typology to establish chronology, but the main pottery type in use at Lamanai before Spanish arrival continued to be widely used after contact. Diachronic changes in the distribution of other archaeological correlates for pre- and post-contact assemblages, including structure features and lithics, are subtle and do not effectively demarcate deposit type. Here, I use the taphonomic study of animal remains to assess the integrity of the stratigraphic levels identified during excavations and determine whether these levels represent pre- or post-contact accumulations. The methods employed include bone counts, species composition, skeletal part distribution, refits on dry and green bone, and vertical distribution of elements. As Lamanai is one of few known locations of Maya and Spanish interactions in the southern lowlands, identifying pre- and post-contact deposits is essential for studying the impact of Spanish arrival on the Maya society.

Cite this Record

Testing the Stratigraphic Integrity of Shallow Deposits through Zooarchaeology at Lamanai, Belize. Arianne Boileau. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444565)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20256