Sacred Earth: Subterranean features in the Hinterlands of Dos Hombres in Northwestern Belize

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2015-12

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Abstract

Throughout Mesoamerica, caves have often been attributed as dark, mysterious, and dangerous locales. The Maya conceptualized caves as sacred spaces that were integral in their cosmology and worldview. Contemporary archaeological investigations have suggested that cave systems throughout Mesoamerica served as important loci for rituals. The ubiquity of these features in the Maya region indicate that concepts of sacred space may have extended to regions, and sites without naturally forming caves. This thesis explores the ways in which the Maya utilized subterranean features within the Three Rivers region in northwestern Belize. This research focuses on the use of subterranean features located at two sites on the periphery of Dos Hombres: Grupo Agua Lluvia and N950. This research operated as a complementary project to the Dos Hombres to Gran Cacao Archaeological Project and the Dos Hombres Archaeological Project. By using spatial and artifactual contexts the goal of this thesis is to understand how the ancient Maya in the hinterlands of Dos Hombres used subterranean features. Additionally, a comparative analysis was performed between subterranean features previously investigated in the PfBAP area for a broader understanding of the function of subterranean features in northwestern Belize. Investigations into these subterranean features will assist in the understanding of the complexity of ancient Maya conception of cultural landscapes.

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Keywords

Archaeology, Mesoamerica, Caves, Subterranean features

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