Paper No. 204-7
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
RETURN TO THE REJOLLADA: INVESTIGATING BURIED PALEOSOLS AND SOIL EROSION IN NORTHWESTERN BELIZE
To understand geological and anthropogenic soil erosion we studied soils along a catena and sedimentation in a collapsed doline, called a rejollada, 200 m downslope from the ancient Maya site of Blue Creek, Belize. The archaeological site of Blue Creek had a known occupation from the middle Preclassic, about 2500 BP, through the Late Classic, about 1100 BP. The soils and the rejollada yielded useful information concerning episodes of soil erosion and soil stability. We will present a chronology of the site’s human activities, the known climate change record, dated paleosol and sedimentation rates based on 2003 and 2015 excavations to a depth of 5 m. We found a series of paleosols, included one between 3.5 and 2.9 m associated with stone tools and dated to the archaic period, from c. 3900 to 4300 BP. Interestingly, this layer predates all other artifact evidence in this area. In this preliminary study, we will compare the 2003 and 2015 findings. Our methods will include AMS dating, chemical and texture analysis, Pb 210 dating, as well as preliminary ceramic and lithic classification. Overall, this study is a part of a broader effort to understand anthropogenic impacts on soil erosion and landscape transformation through the periods of intense human occupation and abandonment.