Semester of Graduation

August 2021


Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The study of skeletal material macroscopically and microscopically can yield a plethora of information about interments’ lives. Studying bones at an elemental level can provide further details regarding dietary habits, residency, and migration patterns, which are important areas of research for Maya archaeology. Currently, research on bone composition is conducted through destructive methods, especially for archaeological bone. The use of non-destructive methods for testing bone composition such as with a portable x-ray fluorescence machine can also be suitable for the study of archaeological bone. This study has two main goals: to understand the interments' lives through strontium trace element and determine the capability of a pXRF machine on archaeological bone, with a case study from the Maya site of Moho Cay, Belize. The level of matching spectra from the comparison made between the teeth and long bones shows the reliability of a pXRF machine; in addition to indicating the Moho Cay individuals most likely did not migrate to the site.

Committee Chair

McKillop, Heather