Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Through the study of four marine sediment columns taken at two different underwater Classic Maya sites identified as saltworks facilities in southern Belize, this research had the objective of provide some insights on the occupation of these sites and the formation of their archaeological record. The marine sediment studied in this research was composed of partially decomposed plant matter, inorganic minerals, and water in different proportions, with mangrove roots composing the major organic component of the mangrove peat. This research included macroscopic descriptions of the marine sediment, loss-on ignition of 32 samples uniformly distributed throughout the sediment columns to determine the percentage of organic content, and microscopic characterizations of samples throughout the column samples. The results obtained through loss-on ignition suggest clear patterns of organic content distribution throughout the marine sediment columns that, along with macroscopic and microscopic characterizations of the marine sediment, suggest the effects of human activities in the areas where the sediment was collected. Occupation levels at these sites were tentatively identified at 35 cm to 55 cm depth from the modern sea floor at Site 24, and 45 cm to 60 cm at Site 35. Since archaeological artifacts are found at the modern sea floor in these sites, bioturbation was likely an important element in the formation of the archaeological record at both underwater sites.



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Committee Chair

McKillop, Heather I.