As integrated and varied ritual contexts, how do changing patterns of pre-Columbian cave use inform the complex of historical, social, political, economic and related ideological processes in action during the inception, florescence, and collapse of Tipan Chen Uitz and other ancient Maya centres in Central Belize? This book aims to highlight and, within a specific regional context, to address, the tendency of the speleoarchaeology of the Maya area to isolate itself from broader topics of discourse. To this end, it explicitly contextualizes primary research in several caves along a chain of related concepts and datasets, extending from the broad body of literature on ritual and religion, through discussion of the conceptual cave context drawn from epigraphic and iconographic sources, and its invocation as recorded in contemporary (or, at least, relatively recent) ethnographic contexts and earlier post-Columbian indigenous historic sources, to the well-travelled paths of the archaeological study of caves.
Shawn G. Morton is a Lecturer in Anthropology at Northern Arizona University. Much of his work has focused on aspects of public performance and ritual within the ancient cityscape and broader landscape of the Maya region, including extensive work in the deep cave contexts of Belize.
‘I like the synergy between epigraphy, iconography, archaeology, and ethnography in this work. … The maps, figures, and tables are beautifully done and the bibliography is beyond exhaustive (in a good way).’ Prof. James Fitzsimmons, Middlebury College, Vermont
‘This is a highly original work. … It is exciting to see cave archaeology move past simple stratigraphy and into extremely thoughtful and useful research. … Dr Morton’s contribution will be well cited and recognised as a significant contribution to the field.’ Prof. Thomas Guderjan, University of Texas at Tyler