Excavations by Graham and Pendergast (1989) indicate that initial occupation of the site occurred about 2100 years ago, during the Late Preclassic. Based on our sea level history curve for northern offshore Belize, sea level was about 0.6 meters lower then than at present, and sea level subsequently rose to its present elevation as the last of the Pleistocene glaciers around the world melted. The site appears to have been continuously occupied from then to about 500 years ago as sea level slowly rose, at which time it was abruptly abandoned. The Maya "made their living" at Marco Gonzalez by exploiting marine food resources and, during the Late Classic Period (from about 1200-1500 years ago), by intensive salt processing. Salt was collected by evaporating sea water in pans. The peak period of occupation at the site was during the Postclassic Period, from about 800-600 years ago. Evidence suggests that the Maya at Marco Gonzalez traded extensively with other Maya sites during this period. The abundant pottery that litters the site is relatively crude, and was made from mixtures of clay and quartz sand (used as temper). Insofar as there is no available source of clay or quartz sand on Ambergris Caye, most of the pottery must have been brought to the site from elsewhere (alternatively, the sand and clay could have been brought to the site, and the pottery made there, although this interpretation appears less likely to the author). Other artifacts at the site clearly were also brought in from elsewhere because they have no natural source anywhere on Ambergris Caye, such as the many chert and flint tools (silicon dioxide) and other granite artifacts, minor jade, and obsidian that are present. The community's setting on the tip of Ambergris Caye may have given its inhabitants a strategic position in the maritime trade routes that existed at the time.

Marco Gonzales Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

by Dr. S. J. Mazzullo, Department of Geology, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas

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