Yalbac


VOPA Research

Click on sites to find out more Archaeology Sites in Belize Yalbac Cara Blanca Saturday Creek Default
   
Saturday Creek

Saturday Creek consists of dense settlement along the Belize River with numerous architectural types from temples (c. 10 m high), range structures, and large plazuela groups (4-5 structures facing a plaza) to small solitary mounds. Saturday Creek has over 100 structures on the north side of the river, 70 of which we mapped in 1998 and nine of which we mapped in 1999 (through SC-85). Most of the site is located in a plowed field, although a large portion of it (c. 350 x 300 m) has not been plowed and shows little evidence of looting. Surface ceramics demonstrate at least Middle Preclassic through Postclassic occupation (c. 900 B.C. - A.D. 1450).

Saturday Creek, with its long occupation history and architectural diversity, provides an ideal settlement system to assess the history of ritual appropriation and the emergence of early Maya leaders.

 

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Yalbac

The secondary center of Yalbac is located under jungle canopy near pockets of good agricultural land along Yalbac Creek on the eastern periphery of the southern Maya lowlands. It sits on private property consisting of 200,000 acres owned and protected by full-time guards of Yalbac Ranch and Cattle Corporation (Belize) Limited, a logging company. Permission is required to enter the property through gated entrances. J. Eric Thompson made brief mention of an eastern group of Yalbac in the 1930's, but missed the site core, which we began mapping in 2001. Test pits excavated in Plazas 2 and 3 exposed several plaza floors and yielded ceramics dating from c. 300 B.C. through c. A.D. 900. All six temples are pyramid buildings with a flat surface at their summit and range from 8 to 16 m in height. There are a total of nine looters trenches (LT) spread out over five temples, eight of which are profiled. Further looting is unlikely since a guardhouse is located about 50 m south of Str. 3A and is staffed year-round, 24/7. Surface ceramics indicate that the Maya used temples through the Late Classic period (c. A.D. 550-850).

 

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Cara Blanca

Cara Blanca ('white face') in central Belize consists of 25 pools along the base of a limestone escarpment (up to ca. 80-100 m high). The far western and eastern pools lie level with the ground surface, making these more pond or lake-like, while the central water bodies include exposed bedrock cliffs, a feature commonly associated with cenotes, or karstic sinkholes. We dove eight of the 25 pools. They are unique in that they are deep (up to 60+ m), and one (Pool 1) has associated buildings, likely ceremonial.

We have now visited the 22 of the 25 pools over the years (Nos. 1-21, 24), five of which have associated settlement: Pools 1, 7, 8, 9, and 20. The survey conducted in the surrounding cliffs to the north and bajos (seasonal swamps) to the south has thus far revealed little additional settlement. With the abundant year-round water and good agricultural land just beyond the pools, one would expect to find dense settlement, especially given the annual dry season when water became critical. The sparse settlement may indicate that Cara Blanca served as a sacred place to the ancient Maya because of its concentration of natural, sacred features in the form of mountains and portals.

 

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