Archaeoogical survey and testing in the Belen River Valley, Panama



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Texas Tech University


The scope of this thesis was originally intended to cover only the 1992 excavations at the Pozo VieJo, which were related to the search for the remains of the Spanish caravel La Gallega and Columbus' settlement of Santa Maria de Belen (1502). The recovery of aboriginal artifacts during the excavations, however, gave rise to a number of questions regarding the prehistoric occupants of the valley. As I was fortunate enough to be in a position to continue research under the convenio granted to Ships of Discovery and I had the support of Dr. Cooke at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, I made the decision to conduct an archeological survey of the Bel^ Valley. After the survey was completed, I conferred with Dr. Cooke about my findings. We decided that a report combining the data from both seasons of research would be of greater scientific value than two individual reports. The primary reason is that both operations produced different but complementary information.

The remainder of this thesis is divided into four chapters. Chapter II consists of a review of ethnohistorical and archaeological literature relevant to the Belrn Valley. Chapter III and IV contain summaries of the 1992 and 1993 field seasons, as well as artifact descriptions and the results of artifact analyses. The final chapter is a synthesis of material from each of the three preceding chapters. It includes a discussion of prehistoric settlement and subsistence patterns in the Bel6n Valley, an initial cultural chronology of the valley which includes both prehistoric and historic components, and an evaluation of applicability of models of prehistoric cultural development utiich have been proposed for Caribbean Panama relative to the data available for the valley.



Belén River Valley, Panama, Archaeology