Shell Games: A Middle Preclassic Shell Deposit at the Minor Center of Tutu Uitz Na in the Upper Belize River Valley

Michael Biggie, John P. Walden, Kyle Shaw-Müller, Michael L. Petrozza, Olivia P. Ellis, Ian N. Roa, Norbert Stanchly, Rafael A. Guerra, Claire E. Ebert, Julie A. Hoggarth, Jaime J. Awe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent excavations at the ancient Maya minor center of Tutu Uitz Na in the Belize River Valley revealed an especially large - about 20 million shells - Middle Preclassic (900-300 BC) shell deposit underlying the plaza. Although marine shell species make up a small percentage of the assemblage, most shells are Pachychilus spp., a common freshwater snail known in the southern Maya Lowlands as jute. This report describes the architectural context and assemblage of the deposit and compares it to similar examples in the region. We propose that the Tutu Uitz Na deposit provides one of the earliest examples of depictions of the Maya primordial sea in an architectural context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLatin American Antiquity
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • ceremonial sources of power and authority
  • freshwater shell (jute) deposits
  • Preclassic Maya
  • sacred landscapes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology

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