Archaeological Reconnaissance at Chau Hiix
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Research Year: 1995
Chronology: Early Preclassic to Post Classic
Site: Chau Hiix
Table of Contents
The Chau Hiix Project: Not "Pure Science" but Ethical Science
The goal of the project was to collect basic data about the newly discovered site of Chau Hiix through a program of settlement mapping and testing and area excavation of five monumental buildings. These data are relevant to current understanding of the rise of complex society. Chau Hiix has evidence of a very long continuous occupation from Early Preclassic (ca 1200 BC) to Late Post Classic (ca 1600 AD). The schedule of reconnaissance was designed to investigate the relationship between Chau Hiix and its neighbors Lamanai and Altun Ha through comparison of architecture and portable artifacts and delineation of Chau Hiix's settlement.
Analysis of data collected shows that Chau Hiix was strongly influenced by Altun Ha until the collapse of that site in the 9th century, at which time the central structure at Chau Hiix was remodeled to more closely resemble Lamanai. This suggestion of political and possibly economic ties is strengthened by the discovery of an intensive agricultural system at Chau Hiix that would supply far more than the obvious subsistence needs of the local population, and hint at a level of economic integration not previously documented for the Prehispanic Maya. Chau Hiix was also found to have the second largest Post Classic settlement known from Belize. These data bear significantly on the nature and causes of the Maya collapse, which is the focus of ongoing research at the site.
In particular, support from the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI) has allowed excavation and research at Chau Hiix to proceed without further looting. The salary for the site guard not only provides livelihood for him, but demonstrates to the village that I have an ongoing commitment to the site and to their interest in its development. This reassurance buys more site protection that can be provided by the guard himself.
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Submitted 11/01/1995 by: