Spatial Analysis of an Ancient Cave Site

By Holley Moyes, State University of New York at Buffalo and Dr. Jaime J. Awe, University of New Hampshire

The Western Belize Regional Cave Project (WBRCP) has conducted investigations at the ancient Mayan cave site of Actun Tunichil Muknal since 1996. GIS is being used as a mapping and analytical tool in the investigation of the cave's Main Chamber, the area most intensively and extensively used by the ancient Maya.

The WBRCP is directed by one of the authors, Dr. Jaime Awe of the University of New Hampshire. The project is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Counsel of Canada. Project work has included the creation of a GIS to investigate the Main Chamber of Actun Tunichil Muknal. This ancient Mayan cave site is located on a tributary of the Roaring Creek River.

A stream, originating within the cave, runs through its five-kilometer length and culminates at the cave's eastern entrance in a deep green pool. The Main Chamber occupies a high elevation passage above the main tunnel system some 500 meters from the cave entrance. The chamber consists of a series of rooms containing at least 718 artifacts, many of which were broken. Cross-dating of the ceramic assemblage suggests that the chamber was used during the Terminal Classic Period (830-950 C.E.).

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