Under the direction of Dr. E. Willis Andrews, Mr. Paul Hughbanks will collect data for his doctoral dissertation. Mr. Hughbanks has conducted two field seasons of archaeological research at Guijarral, a Mayan site located in Northwestern Belize. Excavations to date indicate that it was occupied during the Classic Mayan period. The site itself is located in the head of a small watershed and contains numerous landscape features apparently related to water management. These include both contour terracing and small scale cross-channel terraces. Earth/stone ridges which run both parallel and across slope contours appear constructed to channel water flow and an apparent reservoir has also been located. With support from the National Science Foundation Mr. Hughbanks will conduct an additional field season to complete this mapping work and to excavate a series of habitation structures. He wishes to determine the social context within which water control occurred and through excavation and analysis of artifacts collected, he can both determine the relative status of household inhabitants and the relationship between status and water control. Archaeologists who wish to understand how complex societies developed have often focused on the relationship between social organization and the control of scarce resources. It has been postulated that in the Near East the rise of early civilizations is intimately associated with the development of irrigation systems and that the central function of the high status priestly class was to control water distribution. In many parts of Middle America water is a scarce resource and water related features such as those observed at Guijarral are present. Mr. Hughbanks wants to determine through spatial analysis of the site the extent to which household status and water management are related. Because the site is relatively small, covering ca. 45 hectares, it provides an excellent context for this kind of study. This research is important for several reasons. It will provide data of interest to many archaeologists. It will shed new light on human-environment interactions and assist in training a promising young scientist.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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Tulane University
New Orleans
United States
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