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Perspectives on the Ancient Maya of Chetumal Bay$
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Debra S. Walker

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062792

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062792.001.0001

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Coastal Economies

Coastal Economies

Comparing Northern and Southern Belize

(p.279) 15 Coastal Economies
Perspectives on the Ancient Maya of Chetumal Bay

Heather Mckillop

University Press of Florida

The sea was important to the ancient Maya as a source of ritual and subsistence resources as well as for canoe travel and long distance trade, particularly evidenced in durable goods such as obsidian. This chapter compares the trading system on Chetumal Bay to a similar coastal Maya landscape in the Port Honduras region of southern Belize and its trading port at Wild Cane Cay. The author notes that trading networks reacted to change in market demand for specific kinds of goods, exhibited at coastal sites such as Moho Key on the coast of central Belize. Although Chetumal Bay saw a much longer run as a trading system, the Port Honduras region thrived in the Classic era based in part on a prolific coastal–inland trade in salt. Excavations at the Paynes Creek salt works, for example, revealed a large quantity of salt evaporating vessels (briquetage) essential to producing this mineral necessity. With the Terminal Classic collapse of most inland cities, the southern Belize salt trade declined and populations diminished.

Keywords:   Moho Cay, Wild Cane Cay, Paynes Creek salt works, obsidian trade, briquetage

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