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    An Ancient Maya Hafted Stone Tool from Northern Belize
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1986) Shafer, Harry J.; Hester, Thomas R.
    In 1974, the late Dennis Puleston excavated a hafted stone artifact from the mucky fill of an ancient canal near San Antonio, Orange Walk District, in northern Belize. This specimen has never been published, although it was illustrated by Palacio (1976). The artifact consists of several pieces of a wooden handle and a large chipped stone biface originally set in a mortise haft through the handle. In 1982, Mary Pohl of Florida State University, in her capacity as the director of the Rio Hondo Project, invited us to conduct a detailed study of the axe. The purpose of this paper is to provide a description of the specimen, assess its antiquity, and comment on its probable function.* It is, as best as we can tell, a unique specimen and is thus of particular significance in the study of the stone tool technology of the Lowland Maya.
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    Early Evidence of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing at Kichpanha, Belize
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1986) Gibson, Eric C.; Shaw, Leslie C.; Finamore, Daniel R.
    Archaeological research, conducted intermittently at Kichpanha, Belize, from 1973 to 1983 was primarily limited to surveying and mapping. During the 1985 season, test excavations initiated in the 1983 season were continued (Gibson 1985a). House mounds and plazuela groups yielded further evidence of extensive use of the site from the Xe and early facet Mamom phases (relatively dated to approximately 900-700 B.C.), until its near total abandonment in the Early Postclassic (ca. A.D. 900-1000). In this paper we present some preliminary results of the 1985 season at Kichpanha in the context of our research foci which included economic relationships with the lithic industrial site of Colha to the south and identifying the subsistence base of Kichpanha. Discovered in a grave containing Late Preclassic and Protoclassic ceramics situated in a low house mound was one of the most significant artifacts recovered, an extraordinary bone, probably a carved bloodletting implement or knife, with eight inscribed hieroglyphic symbols. These glyphs are among the earliest evidence of Maya writing yet found. The art style that these glyphs were executed in is truly exquisite in its attention to fine details. Six burials were together in this grave, along with jade and marine shell beads and pendants, several well-made ceramic vessels, and other exotic artifacts. Biological data obtained after the skeletons are analyzed, such as nutrition and disease status, will be of considerable interest. We knew from previous work at Kichpanha that bone preservation was good, yet were surprised to find out just how good it was. In many of the deposits, small anatomical parts such as fish vertebrae, scales, and other bones, including small turtles were recovered along with those of larger mammals. Thus, during this past season, we have been able to partially address some of our major research questions (see below), which our future efforts will enhance.
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    A Fluted Paleo-Indian Projectile Point from Belize, Central America
    (Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1981-03) Hester, Thomas R.; Kelly, Thomas C.; Ligabue, Giancarlo
    While much archaeological research has focussed on ancient Maya cultures in the lowland jungles and coastal region of Belize (Palacio 1976; Graham 1980), it has been only recently that the remains of very early Maya settlements, and indeed of pre-Maya occupations, have been found. Hammond et al. (1979) have defined the Early Preclassic Swasey manifestation at the site of Cuello, dating to ca. 1900 B.C., and representing a sedentary agricultural society. Most notable of the pre-Maya (preceramic) investigations is the Belize Archaic Archaeological Reconnaissance (BAAR) directed by Richard S. MacNeish (MacNeish, Wilkerson and Nelken-Terner 1980). They have proposed a very tenative Archaic sequence consisting of five major time periods (and artifact assemblages) spanning the period from ca. 9,000-2,500 B.C. Dating is tenuous for each period, and thus far, no radiocarbon dates are available. Two major sites, Lowe Ranch and Sand Hill, originally recorded by the Colha Project (Hester, Eaton and Shafer 1980) have been further studied by MacNeish and his colleagues. [...]