Archaeologists have traditionally relied upon relative ceramic chronologies to understand the occupational histories of large and socially complex polities in the Maya lowlands. High-resolution accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating can provide independent chronological control for more discrete events that reflect cultural change through time. This article reports results of AMS 14C dating of stratified sequences at the residential group Tzutziiy K’in, associated with the major Maya polity of Cahal Pech in the Belize Valley. Cahal Pech is one of the earliest permanently settled sites in the Maya lowlands (1200 cal BC), and was continuously occupied until the Terminal Classic Maya “collapse” (~ cal AD 800). We use Bayesian modeling to build a chronology for the settlement, growth, and terminal occupation of Tzutziiy K’in, and compare our results to chronological data from the monumental site core at Cahal Pech. The analyses indicate that Tzutziiy K’in was first settled by the Late Preclassic period (350-100 cal BC), concurrent with the establishment of several other large house groups and the growth of the Cahal Pech site core. Terminal occupation by high-status residents at this house group occurred between cal AD 850 and 900. This study provides a framework for interpreting patterns of spatial, demographic, and sociopolitical change between households and the Cahal Pech site core.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)