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The interpretation of Postclassic lithic production patterns at Colha, Belize through a synthetic analysis of archaeological data
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A sample of 635 stone tools within a Postclassic context at Operation 2037, Colha, Belize are analyzed and placed within a synthetic research design. Attributes of manufacturing technique, production stage, failure patterning, raw material choice, material alteration, use-wear, recycling, and formal morphology are recorded. This data is used to evaluate the character of the Postclassic domestic midden assemblage, and draw comparisons to manufacturing assemblages at the site prior to its Terminal Classic abandonment. Subsistence and warfare are considered in addressing the divergent patterns of manufacturing technique and tool morphology exhibited by the Postclassic lithic assemblage. Population decreases throughout northern Belize at the close of the Classic period, and the comparatively diminutive scale of Postclassic occupation are shown to have had a rejuvenating effect on animal populations, as faunal materials abound in Postclassic middens, whereas they are scant in Classic period contexts. Faunal data is combined with soil and pollen data in suggesting that subsistence patterns during the Postclassic period at Colha were dramatically different from those extant during the Classic period, where agricultural intensification appears to have provided the largest dietary contribution. Tool morphology is shown to positively correlate with subsistence practices, with differences in tool form between periods explained through change in subsistence patterns. While change in formal morphology relates directly to subsistence practices, the disjunction observed in manufacturing technique between Classic and Postclassic period stone tool production assemblages is more enigmatic. The events leading to Colha's abandonment and subsequent reoccupation are evaluated through a synthetic approach, and ethnohistoric data. The turmoil leading to Colha's destruction and abandonment is symptomatic of the general collapse of the southern Lowlands. A violent end was anticipated by the Terminal Classic occupants at Colha, as production abruptly shifted to manufacture of small stemmed blades. Colha's reoccupation in the Early Postclassic period was not undertaken by people with the same cultural traditions as those who had previously occupied the site, but rather by people with strong Peten affiliations. The Postclassic history of Colha appears to be strongly tied to the successes and failures of Peten Itza expansionism.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 238-265).
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Barrett, Jason Wallace (1999). The interpretation of Postclassic lithic production patterns at Colha, Belize through a synthetic analysis of archaeological data. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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