Exploring Maya population history of Central Belize from Late Preclassic to Late/Terminal Classic

Gabriel D. Wrobel, Jaime J. Awe, Joseph Hefner, Andrea Cucina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study expands upon previous bioarchaeological research in Central Belize, focusing on broadening the current understanding of the region's population history through a comparative analysis of nonmetric dental traits. Estimates of biological distance were calculated using several statistical methods to identify consistent relationships between groups. In general, groups tended to cluster as expected based on geographic proximity, with Petén, Calakmul, and Late Classic Belize Valley forming one regional node and sites in the northern Yucatan forming another. The Early Central Belize group (Late Preclassic / Protoclassic, 300 BCE – AD 300) was most closely affiliated with sites to the west, including Barton Ramie in the neighboring Upper Belize River Valley, and Petén, which is consistent with archaeological indicators of early economic and political ties among sites in this broader region. However, the Late Central Belize group (Late – Terminal Classic, AD 590–880) is morphologically distinct from the earlier Central Belize group, and does not show clear and consistent affinities to any of the other samples. We interpret these results to mean that the rapid construction of large civic ceremonial centers in the Roaring Creek and Caves Branch River Valleys of Central Belize around the 7th century CE coincided with the arrival of a new group or groups, likely from a region not represented in our current comparative sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103630
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Central Belize Valley
  • Dental morphology
  • Maya lowlands
  • Morphological affinities
  • Prehispanic Mayas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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