Paper No. 224-5
Presentation Time: 2:50 PM
GEOARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS AT CHECHEM HA CAVE, WESTERN BELIZE
This paper presents initial results of an ongoing geoarchaeological investigation of the sedimentary processes at Chechem Ha (Poisonwood Water), a limestone cave in western Belize, Central America. Chechem Ha is the oldest dated Maya ritual cave site in the entire Maya region with dates encompassing the Early Preclassic-Late Classic periods (1100 BCE- 950 CE). Excavations revealed intact sedimentary deposits and excellent stratigraphy. The sediments were characterized as heavy clays with varying amounts of sand and silts, both endogenous and exogenous to the cave. Bat guano, limestone, calcite, aragonite and gypsum are among the most common biogenic and geogenic deposits, while some sands and silts, as well as charcoal and ash, were introduced into the cave by anthropogenic processes. Here, we report preliminary results of the chemical and micromorphological analyses of the sediments. These data will contribute to our knowledge of diagenic bat guanos and help identify anthropogenic signals in the sedimentary record.