Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2000:
Michael P. Smyth

A New Study of the Gruta de Chac, Yucatán, México
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Figure 5c. A hummingbird-like figure (9 cm long) from a Chac Polychrome water jar outlined in black and painted orange-red.

Research Year:  1998
Culture:  Maya
Chronology:  Early Classic
Location:  Puuc hills region, Northern Yucatán, México
Site:  Gruta de Chac

Table of Contents

Study Objectives
Cave Exploration and Excavation
Settlement Survey
Ceramic Analysis
Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA)
Radiocarbon Dating
List of Figures
Sources Cited


A new study at the Chac cave took place in the summer of 1998. Following E. Wyllys Andrews IV’s pioneering work at the water cave and building on a program of research at the nearby site of Chac II, excavation, mapping, ceramic classification, and radiocarbon dating at the Chac cave and its surrounding settlement have been completed. Pending neutron activation analysis of ceramics and clays will help to establish the origin of the enigmatic Chac polychrome and slateware. We now have new information indicating a close relationship between the Chac cave wares and early ceramic wares recently found at Chac II. The program of absolute dating completed is contributing to the construction of a more solid chronology that addresses the Early-Middle Classic (A.D. 500-700) settlement buildup in the Puuc region. These data indicate that Gruta de Chac was an important Classic period ceremonial and pilgrimage site associated with the Maya rain gods (Chacs). The cave played a significant role in attracting early settlers to the water-poor yet agriculturally rich Yucatán hill country. Some of these settlers may have been the founders of an emerging elite class whose substantive and symbolic control of a critical resource like water provided a politico-economic foundation for the dramatic cultural florescence of the subsequent Terminal Classic period.

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Submitted 12/01/1998 by:

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