Preceramic occupations in Belize: Updating the Paleoindian and Archaic record

Jon C. Lohse, Jaime Awe, Cameron Griffith, Robert M. Rosenswig, Fred Valdez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Evidence from preceramic Paleoindian and Archaic time periods in Belize has been recorded over the past quarter of a century by a number of projects. This paper summarizes previously published information and presents new archaeological data in bringing the hunting-and-gathering and itinerant horticultural millennia of this region into a more accurate and comprehensive perspective than has been presented to date. The Paleoindian period includes influences from North as well as South America, with settlement preferences shown for river valleys and near-coastal margins. Cave sites hold particular promise for yielding new and well-preserved remains from this early period. The Archaic, beginning as early as 8000 B.C., is poorly dated until 3400 B.C. and was probably characterized by mobile hunter-foragers. The Late Archaic includes two facets, the Early (3400-1900 B.C.) and the Late (1500-900 B.C.) Preceramic, and represents the first appearance and gradual spread of cultivation together with habitat modification. The period beginning around 1500 B.C. shows intensifying maize cultivation, apparently mobile populations, and also the emergence of well-defined stone tool traditions that trend into the early Middle Preclassic. Ceramics seem to appear unevenly from ca. 1200 to 900 B.C., when the Cunil and Kanocha complexes in western Belize and Swasey sphere in northern Belize are reported. Copyright

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-226
Number of pages18
JournalLatin American Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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