Archaic Period

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Sometime around 7000 B.C. most of the world began to experience changing climatic patterns.  As the weather became wetter and warmer, the Pleistocene era came to an end and many of the large animals that once flourished in the Americas (mastodons, giant sloths, horses and camelids) began their decline to extinction.  These changes also had important effects on human populations.  With the growing absence of large animals, these Archaic people began to rely more and more on plants and smaller animals for food.  These changes led to the invention of new tools for use in the exploitation of different resources.  Three of the most diagnostic implements used by the Archaic people of this time are large stone bowls and pestles, and smaller, but wider, projectile points.  The stone bowls and pestles are similar to (but slightly smaller than) the manos and metates that were later used by the Maya for grinding and processing plant food.  The new projectile or spear point (see Figure) looks somewhat like a fishtail and was used for hunting smaller Post-Pleistocene animals.

The best evidence for Archaic human activity in Mesoamerica was recovered by archaeologists working in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico.  They noted that after the end of the Pleistocene era, people began to collect and eat a variety of plants such as peppers, squash, avocado and early forms of corn.  Much of this food was carried to their rockshelter campsites in bags that were woven from plant fibers.  With the passage of time, many of the plants originally collected by these people became domesticated.  Plant domestication eventually led to the establishment of the first permanent settlements.  

Evidence for Archaic human activity in Belize is only slightly better than the preceding period.  In most cases too, this evidence is limited to the diagnostic projectile points left behind by these nomadic people.  The first of these artifacts were discovered in the 1980’s near the Lowe Ranch to the north of Ladyville.   Because of this archaeologists in Belize refer to them as Lowe points.  Up until 1999 about twelve Lowe points had been reported in the Belize, Orange Walk and Corozal Districts.  In 2000, three more points were discovered in the Cayo District – one in San Ignacio, another near Spanish Lookout and the third in the Roaring River area.

 

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Cahal Pech is located on an imposing hill that overlooks the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena. The name of the site means “Place of Ticks” More...