This project will permit Dr. Ball and his colleagues to continue their NSF supported archaeological research. The team will undertake additional excavation at a series of Mayan sites located in the roughly triangular valley floor occupied by the lower reaches of the Mopan and Macal rivers in Belize. They will focus their efforts on two major Mayan sites, Buenavista del Cayo and Cahal Pech and conduct supplemental excavations in several other locations. As in past work, in addition to test trenches they will open large horizonal exposures and this will allow interpretation of the functions these areas served and how they were integrated into a larger Mayan community. Archaeological evidence has shown both that Mayan sites are extremely large and that extensive interaction took place among them. Mayan society can not be understood on a small scale site-by-site basis; large scale regional work is necessary. The archaeological situation that Dr. Ball has discovered is unique because the Mopan region includes a number of sites, both large and small, which are covered by only a limited amount of overburden, which date to a single period of time - the Classic - and which contain undisturbed remains. Through large scale excavation at several sites Dr. Ball should be able to discover not only how each worked but also how they interacted. Dr. Ball has adapted models from urban anthropology which describe how cities function in order to guide his work. This research is important for several reasons. Because of the complexity of its culture archaeologists have long been interested in Mayan society, how it arose, functioned and then declined. This research should provide additional insight into the question. Secondly, the Mayans successfully adapted to a lowland tropical environment. Such areas are much more sparsely populated today than they were in prehistoric times. Dr. Ball's research should provide useful information on the organizational techniques ancient Mayans employed. Hopefully such data can be put to good use in Middle America as well as other parts of the world.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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San Diego State University Foundation
San Diego
United States
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