Archaeology Magazine - Maya Caves of West-Central Belize: Barton Creek Cave: Update 1 - Archaeology Magazine Archive

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Barton Creek Cave: Update 1 "Maya Caves of West-Central Belize"
July 10, 2000
by Vanessa Mirro and Mike Mirro


Olla, metate, and large vessel fragments litter a ledge overlooking the river winding through the cave.

While working on a ledge near the entrance of the cave, we noticed a small alcove on the opposite side of the river. After a precarious traverse 50 feet above the water, we discovered a large intact olla placed on the edge of the alcove. We continued to investigate the area and located a vessel cache tucked into a small recess in the wall just above the olla. This cache consisted of a beautifully preserved Late Classic dish, a small olla, and fragments of several other ollas.

Other exciting finds this week included a spindle whorl, stone tools, and a small carved piece of jade. We also uncovered a hearth feature directly beneath the skeletal remains of an adult female. This is the second example thus far of a burning episode prior to the placement of skeletal remains. We believe that this might be some form of ritual purification of the area in which they are placing their dead. We will continue to investigate this phenomenon in other areas of the cave that contain skeletal remains, as well as compare it to other cave sites in the Maya region.

Excavations of a mound outside the entrance of the cave yielded ceramic material that predominantly dates to the Early Classic. We will continue to excavate some of the other mounds outside the entrance of the cave in an attempt to gain an idea of the temporal span of occupation in this area and compare it to the temporal chronology of cave use by the ancient Maya.

Barton Creek Intro | July 17