In the shade of the Maya Fores...
 Expanding Network - Connecting...
 Historical Roots - A creative...
 Heroes of the Maya Forest - a Community...
 Continuing Investigations - Excavations...
 A Heritage of Investments at El...
 Appendix 1: Collaborative...
 Appendix 2: Timeline for El...
 Appendix 3: Didactics for...

Title: Adaptive management in the Maya forest
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00083138/00001
 Material Information
Title: Adaptive management in the Maya forest
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: ISBER/MesoAmerican Research Center
Publisher: University of
Publication Date: 2002
Subject: El Pilar
Spatial Coverage: North America -- Belize -- El Pilar
North America -- Guatemala -- El Pilar
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00083138
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Table of Contents
    In the shade of the Maya Forest
        Page 1
    Expanding Network - Connecting Communities to Conservation
        Page 2
    Historical Roots - A creative partnership
        Page 3
    Heroes of the Maya Forest - a Community Commitment
        Page 4
    Continuing Investigations - Excavations at Chiik Na
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    A Heritage of Investments at El Pilar
        Page 18
    Appendix 1: Collaborative Organization
        Page 19
    Appendix 2: Timeline for El Pilar
        Page 20
    Appendix 3: Didactics for El Pilar
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
Full Text



BRASS/El Pilar Program
ISBER/MesoAmerican Research Center
University of California
Santa Barbara CA 93106

In the Shade of the Maa forest
Beneath the lush canopy of the Maya forest, the Maya Center of El Pilar prospered for
1,700 years, reaching its zenith around the year AD 700. Over the course of centuries, since as
early as 700 B.C., the center gradually grew to become the primary administrative center in the
Belize River area, replete with sweeping plazas and tall temples. This ancient Maya city has
been the subject of a long-term investigation by the BRASS/El Pilar Program. As a model of a
just and lasting partnership, El Pilar is also important for the alliance among the constituents of
government authority, community participation, and academic research. This symbol still needs
nourishment and support. This year's report focuses on the achievements of the project, the
research potentials of the archaeology, and the challenges that lie ahead.
Studies reveal that the Maya population density during the Maya Classic Period was from
three to nine-times the region's current level. Yet, today, the Maya forest stands as an enduring
monument to the resourcefulness of the Maya. Although it withstood millennia of Maya
occupation, today the Maya forest is at risk.

Regional, local, and site-specific areas of concentration in the Maya forest

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

The Maya forest is ranked second of 25 resources at risk by Conservation International,
an internationally known non-profit organization. Contemporary political lines cut the regional
forest landscape: new roads slice through the forest, paving the way for human migration into
the world's last terrestrial frontier, and political boundaries overlay ancient monuments. This is
the context of the shared heritage of El Pilar.
In this respect, El Pilar is as a model and the program a vision for open communication
for all that own their future. A path of collaborative conservation was embarked upon in 1992 in
order to protect the natural and cultural resources at El Pilar. The ElPilar Archaeological
Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna in Belize and the Monumento Cultural El Pilar para la
Flora y Fauna Mayas in Guatemala were established by the respective governments to safeguard
the shared resources at El Pilar. Integral to the protection of El Pilar was the explicit participation
of the community in the planning for El Pilar. Along with research and education on ancient
Maya land use, the innovative, cross-border, inclusive management process was designed
collectively with government, community and experts with the aim to build a lasting and
effective base for the conservation of the Maya Forest.

Expanding Networks Connecting Communities to Conservation
Investigations at El Pilar form the essential foundation of the promotion of El Pilar as a
new protected area in Belize. From the outset, the BRASS/El Pilar Program, along with the
Government of Belize's Department of Archaeology, was concerned that the developments at El
Pilar translate into real opportunities for surrounding communities such as Bullet Tree Falls. An
expanding network of collaborators connected AdEP and the El Pilar Program to the tourist
world. Coordinating with the non-government organization Help for Progress has promoted the
wider partnership base with a focus on the potentials for the rural sector to participate and benefit
from ecological-archaeological tourism.
As El Pilar began to feature more prominently in the tourist world, Amigos de El Pilar
and the BRASS/El Pilar Program inaugurated an annual Fiesta El Pilar to encourage revival of
local culture and Maya history and visitors to the site. The transformation of the Fiesta El Pilar
into a local venue was demonstrated this year. Management needs have continued to be a
concern of the BRASS/El Pilar Program, and the program continues to provide for two
additional caretakers to maintain the grounds and maintain the network of trails that incorporated
the site's various ecological zones and Maya monuments.
This season the program resulted in the publication of the first trail guide to the site's six
formal trials that incorporate the residential sector, highlighting the excavations and
consolidations at the Tzunu'un Maya house and forest garden, the public plazas, featuring the
information posts at Plaza Copal, and the restricted areas of the north with the consolidated
rooms of Jobo. This guide was first distributed in photocopy version in 1995, it was part of the
program materials for the 1997 Mesa Redonda Mexico, and the text was included in the 2000
field report to the Depart of Archaeology. The final publication is an important facet of the
planning process and is designed not only as a guide to the special resources at el Pilar, but also
as a promotion of the partnership philosophy of conservation that the El Pilar model represents
(Appendix I).
In addition, as for each year, the program continues its training local guides to work at the
site. This year we sponsored a full day workshop attended by 7 guides, each with specific
interests that represent the varied tourism potentials of El Pilar. All were enthused with the new

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

guide book and brought their specific knowledge to the workshop discussions (Appendix II &
III). We included a picnic lunch prepared by Amigos de El Pilar that was appreciated by all the
participants. We were able to introduce the guides to the Be Pukte, the Masewal Forest Garden
maintained by Heriberto Cocom, and to the main features of El Pilar.
We also began a education outreach program. This included lectures and tours with the
local primary school children and teachers, promotion of local arts and crafts with the primary
school students, forest garden education with Heriberto Cocom, and a collaboration with Sacred
Heart Junior College. For a number of years we have offered special volunteer programs during
the field season. This year we launched a lecture program linked together with the effort to
develop a local ecological archaeology concept that would promote a new conservation and
tourism for the Cayo area. Coordinated with Help for Progress, this innovative program was
detailed for the Fall semester.
The field activities of the 2002 season followed in a decade long tradition of partnership
and sharing. Working with HfP is focused on enlivening the rural component and fostering local
development that is in line with the agricultural needs of the nation. Collaboration in the
promotion of Fiesta El Pilar engenders interest and respect for the long-standing cultural
traditions that emanate from the rural sector of society. Development of the El Pilar
Archaeological reserve hinges on the ongoing research and education program of the BRASS/El
Pilar Team. This season's focus on animal monitoring, survey consolidation, and education are
significant parts of the model, a model that promises to build a long-term commitment to
conservation in the Maya forest.

Historical Koots ~ A Creative Fartnership
The recognition of the community role in the conservation of cultural and natural
resources was a significant foundation of the El Pilar model. From the outset, with the support
of the local area representative in 1993, the community participation was wholly endorsed.
When the BTIA worked to define the El Pilar Archaeological Reserve, Commissioner Topsey of
the Department of Archaeology was an outspoken collaborator and with his support, the concept
of the reserve became a reality. Later, with the strong support of Commissioner John Morris, the
1996 binational workshop called the "Encuentro El Pilar" moved the international component of
the vision forward. Recognizing that the local communities are their constituents and are
implicitly, if not explicitly, managers of cultural and natural resources, representatives from
Belize and Guatemala pledged support of the ideals of collaboration and partnership. Jointly, it
was agreed to develop parallel management schemes for the administration of El Pilar,
incorporating an innovative management partnership with local communities.
Through the initiative of the El Pilar Program and Around El Pilar AdEP, local
communities have been gaining awareness of El Pilar and the opportunities it presents for local
development. AdEP sponsored events such as local workshops, BBQ's, an essay contest, the
Fiesta El Pilar, and community outreach have integrated people into efforts surrounding El Pilar.
To increase the effectiveness of the El Pilar Program and AdEP and to advance their
goals within the community, Help for Progress (HfP), a Belizean NGO committed to improving
rural life in the Maya Forest, was enlisted by the BRASS/ El Pilar Program to work with AdEP
in 1998. In respect to reserve management, regional program advocates were formally
incorporated into the El Pilar Program as well. In Belize, Anselmo Castaneda, a conservationist
with an agronomy background, focuses on local and regional environmental issues. In
Guatemala, Jose Antonio Montes, an international attorney, concentrates on legal and political
BRASS/El Pilar Program 3 Management at El Pilar

processes. These bodies constitute an important element of the El Pilar institutional framework
(Appendix I).
The official development of contiguous reserves at El Pilar was the highlight of the 1998.
In Belize, Statutory Instrument was signed into law by Minister Henry Young of the Ministry of
Tourism and the Environment, officially protecting the El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for
Maya Flora. In Guatemala, the Monumento Cultural El Pilar was declared as a protected area
within the Reserva de la Biosfera Maya by Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP), the
government agency that oversees the Maya Biosphere Reserve and El Pilar. The cross-border
aspect of the El Pilar archaeological reserves is unique in the region. Now that both the
governments of Belize and Guatemala recognize El Pilar as two contiguous areas protecting one
cultural resource in two countries, the next step would be to develop a strategy for managing the
To work out this point, The BRASS/ El Pilar Program organized a second Mesa Redonda
El Pilar (MRII). Held in Placencia, Stann Creek, Belize in 1998, the MRII brought together the
growing network to further the unique program of research and development at El Pilar. The
MRII provided government counterparts in cultural and natural resources with a forum in which
they could work together proactively. Participants drafted a management plan for El Pilar that
included short and long-term goals related to law, community participation, and tourism.
A gratifying number of villages in Belize and Guatemala participated in the proceedings
of the MRII. The clear accord between AdEP and the government representatives at the MRII
was underscored by the latter's approval of the community's role in reserve management
planning, a role that they suggested would be enhanced by university level training aimed at
building local management capacity. Not only was AdEP an effective participant in the MRII,
endorsing the drafted management plan, they relayed the results of the proceedings to the
residents of surrounding communities.
The development of the contiguous reserve was followed in 1999 by the endorsement of
parallel management plans. The Protected Areas Technical Evaluation Committee El Pilar
(PATEC-EP) was formed and held six meeting to finalize the draft management plan for El Pilar.
The committee was made up of prominent policy makers including John Morris, Joseph Palacio,
Elias Awe, Eugene Ariola, Rafael Manzanero, Eugenio Ah, Natalie Rosado, Evarista Avella,
Paul Francisco, and Anselmo Castafieda. The group reaffirmed the importance of ensuring that
local communities receive direct and long-term benefits from El Pilar, describing in the PATEC-
EP notes that, "in order to promote the advantages that can be derived from El Pilar's location,
an alliance has been formed between the Amigos de El Pilar and the site, the El Pilar Program,
and internationally." The PATEC committee finalized and endorsed the innovative management
plan, the first of its kind for the DoA, serving as an example for the management plans for
archaeology yet to be developed in the region.

H heroes of the Maja forest ~ A Communit; Commitment
Around El Pilar, communities have shown that they play an important role as guardians
of the forest. Key member of the Amigos de El Pilar were initially users of the area now
designated as the reserve. For example, when a group of displaced farmers threatened to burn
land in the reserve in 1996, AdEP gathered the signatures of over 100 community members who
sought the protection of El Pilar. AdEP then went to Belmopan to meet with government leaders
and vent their concerns. Through this effort, and the subsequent action of the DoA, the

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

government acted with AdEP to stop the destruction of the reserve. In this case, the community
acted as a government advocate to ensure that national regulations be enforced at El Pilar.
Yet the AdEP commitment goes much deeper. Carmen and Betty Cruz as well as
Heriberto Cocom each had personal investments at El Pilar. The Cruz had a small home at the
site, now maintained for the overflow support of the caretaking at El Pilar as well as for the
Intermittent participation of groups, like Raleigh, who work short term on site. Cocom's place is
marked by his care of an ancient Maya aguada and his careful planting of economically
important trees. These are now gifts to the reserve and part of the rich heritage of El Pilar. These
families, as well as others, are heroes who gave up their personal stake to support the protection
of El Pilar.
Efforts this year were similarly launched when it was recognized that trees at El Pilar,
assets of the people of Belize, were being cut for timber that would benefit only a few. AdEP
and supporters of their concerns collected hundreds of signatures and sent them to the Prime
Minister 's office. They asked for strong protection of El Pilar, demonstrating a single mind on
this topic. And it was the heroes of AdEP who sought to report transgressions in the course of
2002 first to Forestry and then to the DoA when trees were downed without concern for the
protection of the heritage values at El Pilar. Further, they accumulated many signatures in
support of protecting El Pilar that they forward to their government. These are strong
representations of collaboration and faith in their partnership with the government.
Our work at El Pilar over the past years has followed the premise that the community
participation in the conservation of El Pilar is essential to the conservation of the resources of the
region and in the development of the rural sector (Appendix II). We have included leaders in
traditional cultivation as integral members of the forest garden projects at El Pilar, and worked to
build their following locally and regionally. Education programs in the community attempt to
draw upon their wisdom. These have provided the staple to compile the pamphlets and books
that promote their knowledge of the areas. In addition, we have incorporated youth into our
team, teaching them the survey methods and the maintenance strategies we have supported at the
site. Also, we work closely with Amigos de El Pilar in their program developments, in particular
the fiesta el Pilar. The 2002 season is no exception. Our concentration this season was primarily
on the maintenance program at the site and the development of didactics for the site (Appendix
III). We also were able to expand our residential excavation with the collaboration with Grinnell
College, a five-year program (2002-2006) to develop a deeper understanding of the nature and
culture of El Pilar for the education and interpretation at the reserve.

Continuing Investigations ~ Excavations at ChiiL Na
Contribution by Kathryn Kamp and John Whittaker
Grinnell College
Excavations at Chiik Nah, a small Maya residential unit at El Pilar, was the undertaking
of collaborators from Grinnell College, Iowa. a six-person research team from Grinnell College
headed by anthropology professors Kathryn Kamp and John Whittaker1 excavated a small house
mound at El Pilar. Chiik Nah is a single house mound only about 250 meters south of the
monumental architecture of Plaza Axcanan in the ceremonial core of El Pilar and about 300
meters southwest of the center of Tzunu'un, a previously-excavated elite residential area.

1Student excavators were Melissa Badillo (Department of Archaeology), Zerifeh Eiley (University of Belize), April Kamp-
Whittaker (Earlham College), Jennifer Thornton (Grinnell College), and Alexander Woods (Grinnell College).
BRASS/El Pilar Program 5 Management at El Pilar

Figure 1: Location of Site 272-32--Chiik Nah

--10M m- EL PILAR
2 .. 272

0 40 80

7-0T T unu'un 9-10 km
26North of River
SNorth of River

Chiik Nah was originally located during the 1984 survey of a 250 meter by 10 km transect
between the center of El Pilar and the Belize River (Figure 1). At that time the mound was
designated as 272 (the transect number)-32 (the site number). We have christened it Chiik Nah,

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

a Maya phrase meaning "house of the Coati" in honor of an abandoned pet that was befriended
by the El Pilar site guards and frequented the excavation area during the early part of the
excavation season until it mysteriously disappeared. The mound at Chiik Nah is about 0.5 meters
high and about 5.5 meters in diameter. For excavation and mapping purposes, we included a
surround of about 10 meters in all directions from the center of the mound in the site definition.
Chiik Nah was partially cleared with small trees and shrubs removed. Larger trees were
left standing, in order to coincide with the project's effort to preserve the forest environment.
Using an electronic distance meter (EDM) and back sights from EP12, a previously established
control point in the parking lot to the south of Tzunu'un, two new control points (temporarily
designated 32CP 4 and 32CP5) were set up within the site limits and marked with cement posts.
These control points were then used to set up a 4m north-south grid over the site. Posthole tests
were conducted along the grid to determine artifact distribution throughout the site. No
postholes were dug on the house mound itself to avoid damaging possible architectural features.
Posthole tests were dug to bedrock with posthole diggers and spades. All excavated soil was
screened through 1/4-inch mesh. Based on the data collected from the posthole tests, two 2m by
2m test trenches (TT1 and TT2) were opened in areas near but not on the mound with relatively
high artifact counts. TT1 and TT2 were respectively located to the northeast and to the
southwest of the mound. Later, 2m by 2m test trenches (TT3 and TT4) were opened on the
mound itself (Figure 3). TT3
was located on the southeast Map of Site 272-32- Chiik Nah
corner of the mound to define the

completely located on the mound,
directly north of TT3. A Im balk
separated TT3 and TT4. All test
trenches were set up on even
UTMs to facilitate mapping.
Chiik Nah was partially
cleared with small trees and shrubs
removed. Larger trees were left Site Datum
standing, in order to coincide with 234.3 msI
the project's effort to preserve the
forest environment. Using an
electronic distance meter (EDM)
and back sights from EP12, a
previously established control
point in the parking lot to the south
of Tzunu'un, two new control
points (temporarily designated
32CP 4 and 32CP5) were set up
within the site limits and marked
with cement posts. These control Le
points were then used to set up a N conm, uni
4m north-south grid over the site. n oorSufaes T-m
Posthole tests were conducted .E Mou.douline
along the grid to determine artifact 0051 2 3 4

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

distribution throughout the site. No postholes were dug on the house mound itself to avoid
damaging possible architectural features. Posthole tests were dug to bedrock with posthole
diggers and spades. All excavated soil was screened through 1/4-inch mesh. Based on the data
collected from the posthole tests, two 2m by 2m test trenches (TT1 and TT2) were opened in
areas near but not on the mound with relatively high artifact counts. TT1 and TT2 were
respectively located to the northeast and to the southwest of the mound. Later, 2m by 2m test
trenches (TT3 and TT4) were opened on the mound itself (Figure 3). TT3 was located on the
southeast corner of the mound to define the mound's edge. TT4 was completely located on the
mound, directly north of TT3. A Im balk separated TT3 and TT4. All test trenches were set up
on even UTMs to facilitate mapping.
Test trenches were dug by teams of two to three people using trowels and hand picks.
Hand picks were necessary due to the very hard clay loam that was encountered during
excavation. Test trenches were dug down to bedrock according to natural strata, which were
further subdivided into 10 cm arbitrary levels. Chert and obsidian stone tools, chert cores, and
large potsherds found in situ were point provenienced using an EDM. Levels and architectural
features such as floors were also mapped using the EDM. All features, levels and point-
provenienced artifacts were further recorded on sketch maps.
Fill was screened using 1/4-inch mesh, but due to slow and careful digging more artifacts
were found in situ than in the screen. In addition, a soil sample from TT1 was water screened.
Only a few small flakes were found, indicating that our standard 1/4 inch screening was
sufficient, and it was extremely difficult to process the clay fill through a fine screen, so no
further water screening was done. Samples of soil and plaster from cultural surfaces found in
TT2, TT3 and TT4 were collected for pollen testing.
Site 272-32 was used as an agricultural field, within the last 10 years. Charcoal from
burning the field burning was still evident, but was not collected. No charcoal was found in
undisturbed contexts. One simple bucket-and-sieve flotation was performed on a sample of fill
from TT4. There were many fresh rootlets, but no useful carbonized plant remains. Bone and
other organic material was apparently not preserved in the mound. Only lithics and potsherds
survived both the burning and the humid tropical environment. Many of the lithics collected
showed evidence of burning such as spelling and heat fracture. Also, some of the wear on the
lithics may have come from historic disturbance rather than prehistoric use. The potsherds
collected did not appear damaged by burning, but were heavily corroded and soft. The heavily
corroded appearance may have been caused by the dissolution of limestone temper. The basic
soil conditions resulted in a thick patina on the lithics and may have affected the preservation of
other artifacts as well.
Stratigraphy and Temporal Sequence
Test Trenches 1 and 2 were located to investigate surfaces around the mound, while 3 and
4 were situated to explore the contents of the mound. No surfaces were identified in TT1, but an
irregular cobble surface was found in TT2, and TTs 3 and 4 each exposed a plaster floor.
Unfortunately, the relationship between the floor surfaces in each trench is not clear, and we did
not have time to excavate the areas between the trenches in hopes of clarification.
Test Trenches 1 and 2:Test Trench 1, located northeast of the mound, contained few
artifacts, only 174 sherds and 374 lithics, including both tools and debitage. Under the upper few
centimeters of humus, the soil became increasingly clayey and hard, with many roots and small
limestone rocks. The sterile substrate, composed of decaying limestone, began about 30 cm from
the surface.

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

Test Trench 2 was 5 m southwest of the south edge of the mound. The basic profile was
very similar to that in Test Trench 1. Artifact density was even sparse, with only sherds and 191
lithics. The decaying limestone bedrock began at about the same depth as in TT1; however, in
the northern half and more patchily over the rest of the test trench, lying directly on the sterile
substrate, was a discontinuous expanse of tightly packed potato sized limestone lumps. This
surface was unplastered, but appeared to have been prepared.
Test Trench 3: Test Trench 3 (Figures 4 and 5) was on the south edge of the mound.
Beneath the entire excavation was the same sterile subsoil (104): decaying yellow limestone with
clay, which after about 10-15 cm gives way to more solid soft limestone.
Outside the mound area, the fill above sterile 104 is yellowish clay loam with rocks,
becoming rockier and darker higher up. Stratum 113 was excavated as this fill south of the floor
110/114, with Stratum 108 as gravelly fill over most of the unit and over the floor area, and 107
as darker fill around the apparent edge of the mound before the floor was exposed. Stratum 107
is equivalent to 106, 105, and 102 in the northern part of the TT, over the mound, and no visible
distinction can be made.
Under the mound area in the northern part of the test trench, a layer of tightly packed
limestone cobbles and lumps in clay (114) were laid directly on the sterile 104, which may have
been artificially flattened first. This 114 apparently served as a substrate for a plaster floor (110),
which was about 2-4 cm thick, with a well smoothed, level surface. It survived over the NW 1/3
of the test trench, and although there was no apparent border of larger rocks, the arc of the edge
is close to what might be expected from the surface appearance of the mound, and we believe it
is the edge as constructed. Above the floor was the gravelly fill 108, which appeared continuous
with material outside the boundary of the mound. Above this were fill units designated 106, 105
and 102, which in retrospect seem largely undistinguishable, except that they become
increasingly dark and humic nearer the surface. Stratum 101 was the mound surface.
Test Trench 4: Test Trench 4 (Figures 4 and 6) was fully within the apparent bounds of
the mound, but the floor surface we encountered was only in the SW 1/3 of the trench. As in
Test Trench 3, the sterile 104 was remarkably flat, possibly artificially flattened. In the SW
corner, a rocky clay fill (119) lay directly on this. It was thicker, looser, and much less organized
or packed than the possibly equivalent 114 under floor 110 in TT3. In the extreme corner, there
was a substantial pocket of completely loose rock, with very little clay matrix. We designated it
Stratum 116, but eventually felt that it represented an area of root or burrow disturbance of 119.
Above 119 was a plaster surface, or rather two. Stratum 115 was a poorly surfaced yellow plaster
some 4 cm thick. In the corner, some 25 cm of Stratum 119 intervened between plaster 115 and
sterile 104, but the 115 plaster formed a sloping arc, poorly preserved, that came down to the
sterile 104 in the middle of the test trench. Plaster remnants rested directly on sterile 104 or with
no more than a cm or two of clay intervening. Unfortunately, the plaster was only traceable in
patches, never with good surfaces. While cleaning the south profile, we cut a strip 10 cm wide
about 5 cm deep into the 104, and exposed a dark round stain 10 cm in diameter right against the
profile, and just outside the arc of plaster 115. Excavating the stain carefully with fingers (fill
was wet clay), recovered no artifacts, but produced a cone-shaped hole about 10 cm deep. The
form and position suggest a posthole. Further scraping of the sterile 104 along the contact with
plaster 115 failed to reveal any other similar features.
Directly on top of 115 in the corner of the trench was 111, another plaster, 4 cm thick,
much whiter than 115 and with a nicely smoothed, level surface. It appeared that small
discontinuous bits of this plaster extended at the same level over the sloping part of 115, at least

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

as seen in the profiles to the south and west. Our initial interpretation was that 111 represented a
replastering of the 115 floor, either as repair, or a later occupation. Alternatively, 115 could be a
substrate prepared for the finished floor 111, although it is not clear why 115 should slope down
and 111 appears to continue more horizontally. Possibly at the edges of the floor we are seeing a
surface marked by plaster bits from both plasters, and the sloping 115 also is eroded remnants of
both, either forming a sloping edge as constructed, or slumped and eroded.
We designated the fill over the floor 111 as Stratum 109. Above 109 some fill was
designated 108, essentially equivalent to that in TT3, but later we felt that we had been seeing a
sort of transition between 109 and 106, the upper fill of the mound, which was distinctively
humic and rocky, darker and looser than fill below. Stratum 106 was recognized over the whole
trench, and the very top fill over the whole unit was 102 or 105, but there is no real distinction
among them.
Outside the area marked by the extent of plaster 115, the fill over sterile 104 was labeled
117, and is essentially similar to 113 in TT3. Above that we recognized 112, but this now
appears arbitrary, and 112 and 109 are essentially continuous.



S234.3 m
Test Trench 3, West Profile. Chiik Nah, El Pilar Site 272-32.
Scale: 1 cm= 10 cm

M W,

SNI&k .
&B*/ *'*

234.3 m


* ~ 106
-U-- -

Test Trench 4, West Profile. Chiik Nah, El Pilar Site 272-32.
Scale: 1 cm= 10 cm

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

Figure 4: Harris Diagram Showing Strategraphic Relationships
Chiik Nah, El Pilar site 272-32

Off Mound Mound

101 | = | 101 | =

S 102 I= 102 |I

I 107 | 105 |

S 106
0108 I

S 113




No rth
Outside floor

surface = 101 = 101

= 102 = 102

= 105 = 105

= I 1 06 1 = 106 I
= 106 = 106

'= ? ;-'108

S11 1-- 117 2
1 09

11 5

116 | L77 Ipost
119 hole

104 Sterile Bedrock


Indicates fill level
Indicates floor level

Stratigraphic Interpretation of the Mound
The big unanswered question is the relationship between the floors in TT3 and TT4. The
top of the 110 floor in TT3 is only about 10 cm below the top of the plaster 115 in TT4, and 14
cm below the plaster of 111. However, the plaster of 110 is white like the plaster of 111, not the
yellower plaster of 115, and although the absolute difference in elevation is not great, the
surfaces of both 110 and 111 were flat over the extent observed, making it unlikely that there is a
slope concealed in the balk. Additionally, the cobble substrate 114 under 110 is thinner and
much more organized than the 119 fill under 115, and the edge of floor in TT3 shows none of
the slope of 115 in TT4. Presumably this means that somewhere in the balk, one floor must cut
the other, or form a continuous surface. The fact that in both test trenches the apparent floor
edges form rather tight arcs, suggests that several small floors might be incorporated into one
smallish mound.
In any case the mound began as a floor or floors built on a clean sterile surface, and
covered by a build-up of clay loam and limestone rock, with midden debris as well. The material
over the floors presumably derives from wall structures; they could have been stone and clay in a
wooden crib framework. The refuse component is fairly sparse; most of the sherds are small and
isolated. The lithic material suggests that debitage and tools were incorporated in fill or
structures rather than produced on the spot. There is little small debitage, and nothing to suggest
that any of the artifacts are in situ on an interpretable living surface

Ceramic Analysis
Methods of Analysis All potsherds larger in diameter than a quarter were collected and
washed. In the lab, potsherds were initially sorted by presence or absence of ash temper. Ash
tempered and non-ash tempered sherds were further sorted according to the vessel part

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Management at El Pilar

represented: rim, neck, body, base or foot. Body sherds with decorations or waxy slip were
separated into their own category. The number and weight of sherds in each category were
recorded for every excavation level.
The next stage of analysis focused on potentially diagnostic sherds. These sherds included
rims, necks, decorated and waxy body sherds, bases, flanges and feet. All rim sherds and other
diagnostic sherds were assigned a unique number and information was recorded on the following

1. Vessel Part: Rim, neck, body, base, flange, feet or indeterminate vessel form.
2. Slip: Presence of slip on the exterior, interior, or both exterior and interior.
3. Decoration: Incised designs, fingernail impressions, applique, or painting.
4. Paste: Coarse, fine, Mars Orange, or ash paste.
5. Vessel Form: Jar, bowl, plate, vase, or indeterminate.
6. Diameter: Rim diameters in cm, when possible.
7. Period: Sherds were classified according to time period (i.e. Early Classic, Late Classic,
etc.), based on BRASS type collections and spot checks by Anabel Ford.

In general the sherds recovered at Chiik Nah were small and in poor condition. What
were initially seen as good-sized sherds in the ground often broke into tiny fragments, even when
excavated with a brush, or threatened to dissolve during washing. Because of the limited scope
of excavations and poor preservation of sherds at the site there were few potentially diagnostic
sherds. A total of 264 potentially diagnostic fragments, primarily rims, were examined, but less
than half of these were assigned a temporal designation. Preliminary analyses of the sherds
revealed occupation in the area from the Late Pre-Classic through Late Classic. Heaviest
occupation appears to have been during the Early and Late Classic. The Terminal Classic sherd
was encountered on the surface and is the traditional pie-crust jar found throughout the central
Maya region.

Period Frequency Percent
Preclassic 4 1.5
Middle Preclassic 1 0.4
Late Preclassic 10 3.8
Early Classic 26 9.8
Late Classic 65 24.2
Terminal Classic 1 0.4
Indeterminate 158 59.8
Total 264 100.0

The distribution of paste types correlates well with what might be expected. Thus, the ash
temper characteristically found in Late Classic contexts is fairly abundant, while Mars Orange is
present, but rare. The following are the data:

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Management at El Pilar

PASTE TYPE Frequency Percent
Coarse 171 64.8
Fine 58 22.0
Ash 34 12.9
Mars 1 .4
Total 264 100.0

The ceramic distributions must be viewed in the context of the formation processes that have
occurred at Chiik Nah. There were no truly sealed proveniences excavated. The floor levels
tended to be discontinuous, broken by roots, animal burrows, and the collapse of the floor
surface that occurred after abandonment.
Again, because of the very small size of many of even the best sherds, it was not possible
to securely identify a vessel form for many of the ceramics. The vessels found at Chiik Nah are
primarily bowls and jars (see below); plates occur, but are quite rare. This type of ceramic
distribution is typical for a non-elite domestic context:

Form Frequency Percent
Bowl 56 21.2
Jar 47 17.8
Plate 16 6.1
Indeterminate 145 54.9
Total 264 100.0

The Overall picture of the ceramic assemblage fits with the nature of the site: domestic
vessels with generalized purposes. The occupation is focused in the Classic Period, with
increasing proportions over time from the Preclassic. It is interesting that there is a strong
presence of Early Classic, something that is scarce in the non-central areas of the region. The
location of Chiik Nah within the city settlement conforms to the interpretations of increasing
centralization at that time. Occupation in the late Classic is consistent with the interpretation of
increased land use during the height of the Maya civilization.

Lithic Analysis
Methods of Analysis Lithic debitage was washed in the field and then sorted into flakes
and shatter. These two categories were weighed and counted, at which point the shatter was
discarded. The shatter category is hard to compare to normal archaeological use of the term, as it
included not only the usual angular fragments from tool manufacture, but also angular fragments
resulting from extensive heat fracturing of chert tools and unworked nodules. Flakes and
identified tools were cataloged, boxed, and shipped back to Grinnell for further analysis. In
Grinnell, debitage was sorted by size, presence of cortex, evidence of burning, and type of flake
(hard hammer flake, biface thinning flake, or indeterminate).
Thick flakes with large bulbs of percussion and large flat platforms were viewed as the
result of hard hammer percussion. Thin flakes with diffuse bulbs of percussion, lipped
platforms, and multiple flakes scars on the exterior surface were classified as biface thinning
flakes. Thin or medium flakes with missing platforms and/or lacking other recognizable
indicators were classified as indeterminate. A large number of flakes with irregular damage on

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Management at El Pilar

the edges were recognized in the debitage. They could not be considered formal tools, and in the
rocky and trampled context of the mound we felt that we could not distinguish between
accidental damage and possible use wear without microscopic inspection. Even excluding such
flakes, our assemblage contained a surprisingly high number of tools. For comparison, we also
examined samples of lithic assemblages from two other sites, the LDF Chert Site in the center of
El Pilar and 272-136, the Lat6n residential complex some 4.5 km to the south.
Local chalcedonic chert was used as for the vast majority of tools at El Pilar. This
chalcedony ranges from a translucent brown, to grey, to a sort of purplish color, but patinates to a
thick opaque white. The material from Chiik Nah was so heavily weathered that it was difficult
to recognize as chalcedony, as unbroken pieces appeared at first to be some sort of white chert.
Despite reports to the contrary, a lot of this chalcedony is quite high-grade knapping material and
seemed to be quite adequate for both household needs at Chiik Nah (272-32) and biface
production at the LDF Chert Site of El Pilar (272-005).

To sample the debitage of Chiik Nah, we carefully examined the debitage from Test Trenches 3
and 4. The debitage analysis included 681 pieces (9547 gm) of shatter and 1471 flakes (13115
gm), a 1:2 ratio. The following table shows the distribution of flake types by size categories for
a total of 1149 flakes from Test Trenches 3 and 4:

Flake Type By Size Category
Size Less Than 2 cm 2cm to 4 cm 4cm to 6 cm Greater than 6 cm Total
Hard Hammer 10 173 132 18 333
Biface 5 31 7 1 44
Indeterminate 40 152 28 1 221
Total 55 356 167 20 598
Hard Hammer 10 132 44 4 190
Biface 23 94 3 0 120
Indeterminate 75 155 11 0 241
Total 108 381 58 4 551
Hard Hammer 20 305 176 22 523
Biface 28 125 10 1 164
Indeterminate 115 307 39 1 462
Grand Total 163 737 225 24 1149

Most of the material came from fill above the floors, and there is no obvious reason to
subdivide the assemblage temporally. Most of the material derives from deposits above the
floors, both because there was much more fill there, and because artifacts in general were sparse
under the floors. About 15% of the 240 tools showed signs of burning, and about 23% of the
flake assemblage. Almost 75% of the burned tools were from the upper fill on the mound, which
also had a higher percentage of burning (21%) than other groups of strata both lower, and off the
mound. This suggests to us that much of the burning is from the action of field fires on exposed

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mound material; however, it could also be argued that the architectural fill used on the mound
suffered more prehistoric burning than surrounding materials.
The assemblage is dominated by simple core flaking, with only about 14% of the flakes
appearing to result from biface manufacture. Most of the flakes are of a size to be usable as tools;
there are relatively few small flakes and even fewer really large ones, which along with the
scarcity of cores, suggests that little knapping was done on site.
The contrast with the LDF Chert Site, where most of the assemblage was recognizably biface
thinning flakes and small flakes and fragments were common, is striking.

Tools from all the excavated units are included in the analysis, although most came from Test
Trenches 3 and 4 (see Figure 7 for a map of the locations of tools with point proveniences).
Information recorded for tools included type, weight, dimensions, blank form, and presence or
absence of burning. Burning was identified by the presence of heat spalls, pot-lid fractures,
crazing, and discoloration. The following blank forms upon which tools were made were
distinguished: Hard hammer flakes, Biface thinning flakes, Indeterminate flakes, Blades,
Macroblades, and Other. The "other" classification was usually used for tools made directly
from nodules or fragments of nodules. In one case a tool was made on a piece of a broken axe
and the classification "axe" was used for its blank form.
1. Scraper: These are arbitrarily distinguished from the large number of flakes with minor
retouch or edge damage by requiring them to have more than 2 cm of steep, orderly
retouch on at least one edge.
2. Notch: Notches have an apparently purposeful creation of a notched scraping edge. Often
gravers (below) were made by removing two notches to form a spur, which at times made
it difficult to distinguish which property was desired, the notch or the spur.
3. Tool Edge: This classification is given to tools that possess an edge of some sort, but are
too irregular to classify as a chopper, scraper or graver. They are usually flakes with a
short length of apparently purposeful steep retouch.
5. Multiple Tool: These are tools possessing several small irregular used edges.
6. Flake Graver: These consist of small, mostly unifacial spurs produced in a number of
ways on small to medium sized chert flakes. The classification of flake graver has
priority over classifications multiple tool and notch, as these spurs were sometimes
included on the end of flakes possessing several irregular retouched edges, and were
often formed by the removal of two large notches from either side of the intended spur.
Flake gravers are found on a wide variety of flakes in a variety of sizes and forms,
making it difficult to describe the "typical" flake graver.
7. .\/hape Graver: These distinctive tool forms are characterized by small points on a flake
worked around the entire circumference with steep, c. 90 degree, unifacial retouch. This
tool is of a size held comfortably between the thumb and forefinger or hafted in a socket,
and other analysts have called these drills. We make no classificatory distinction
between them, but several different forms appear consistently. Most are a "tear drop" or
"corn kernel" form but some have one or both shoulders sharply defined below the
point. Most have well knapped shoulders indicating that it was a deliberate feature the
tool. Of final note is their uniformity in size. Most are within a few millimeters of each
other in length and width. The typical shaped graver is about 22mm long, 10mm wide,
and 3mm thick.

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8. Blade graver: Only one specimen was found at 272-32, but in examination of the tools
from 272-136 they can be recognized as a distinct tool form. Blade gravers are long,
narrow tools created by steep, unifacial retouch on a thick, narrow flake or macroblade
segment. When whole, they are c. five or six times as long as they are wide, almost as
thick as they are wide, and often display heavy battering or stepping on the sides.
9. Edge Dulled Flakes: These flakes are distinctive oval pieces, usually 3-6 cm in diameter,
severely dulled with bifacial buffering around much of the perimeter. Although
relatively uniform in size and shape, edge-dulled pieces were categorized by the presence
of this extensive dulling, not their oval shape. Such pieces are often called wedges. None
were found at Chiik Nah, but they were common at 272-136.
10. Prismatic blade. These tools are classified by small narrow flakes with multiple parallel
scars. These are counted as tools even when not retouched. Only obsidian examples were
found at 272-32, while they appear in other collections in both chert and obsidian.
11. Axe: These tools are ovoid, relatively thick bifaces with finished edges, often showing
dulling or damage to a bit at the wider end. These are sometimes called "general utility
bifaces" in some of the literature, and "Biface ovates" for Tikal.
12. Chopper: Heavy-duty tools with a relatively straight, battered edge, usually bifacial, are
classified as choppers. Relatively unbattered choppers proved difficult to differentiate
from cores in the field.
13. Rough Biface: These bifaces exhibit the presence of irregular edges, lack of symmetry, or
extreme thickness and may be considered unfinished due to their asymmetrical form.
14. Core: Any piece of material possessing several relatively large flake removals and
showing no signs of use.
15. Prismatic Blade Core: These are small cores with multiple small blade removals. None
were recorded at Chiik Nah, but they are recognized in the collections from 272-136.
16. Ground Stone: The ground stone is not included in the tool statistics. Two fragments of
manos were found on the surface of the mound outside of the two test trenches. Both
were fire-cracked; one was limestone, the other granite.

Frequency of Tool Types (Chert unless noted)
Frequency Percent
Small Tools Scraper 71 29.6
Notch 26 10.8
Tool Edge 11 4.6
Multi-Purpose 9 3.8
Flake Graver 48 20.0
Shaped Graver 6 2.5
Blade Graver 1 .4
Prismatic Blade 14 5.8
Large Tools Axe 13 5.4
Chopper 14 5.8
Core 20 8.3
Rough Biface 7 2.9
Total 240 100.0

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Management at El Pilar

Summary of Excavation Results
The Chiik Nah residential type at El Pilar represents what was probably a common
residential unit in the local area. This small mound represents the collapsed of a sequence of
constructions. None of the constructions of Chiik Nah would have been large enough to shelter
more than a small family, but the collections suggest that it may have served other domestic
purposes. The previously excavated domestic structures in the BRASS area exhibit considerable
variability in the details of construction from consolidated cobble foundations to major faced
limestone buildings. Chiik Nah appears to be well within the range of extant variation with raised
foundations, floor ballast fill, and plaster surfaces. The artifacts are all of a type that might be
BRASS/El Pilar Program 17 Management at El Pilar

expected of a household; generalized in strategies of use more common at the lower end of the
economic spectrum, despite the mound's close proximity to the El Pilar ceremonial core. This
phenomenon of economic integration has been noted elsewhere at El Pilar and in the Maya area
as well.
At this point, it is difficult to specify the economic strategy of occupations at Chiik Nah.
The generic quality of the assemblage suggests ordinary series of activities. Tools found at the
site do not point to any specialized craft activities. Some were undoubtedly used for basic
domestic activities, while others probably served as agricultural implements.
The soils at Chiik Nah are clayey, hard to work, and not especially optimal for
agriculture. On the other hand, they are not unsuitable either, as suggested by the recent evidence
of maize agriculture in the area. The occupation concentrates in the Classic Period, with little
evidence of earlier and later occupation.
Little doubt, the growth of El Pilar in the vicinity influenced occupation in this zone. The
survey map shows several other small mounds in the vicinity. Nearby sites in more productive
soil areas evidence higher settlement density and larger residential units. This is suggestive of a
pattern of land use where the best soils are occupied before other areas. Such a pattern is
consistent with regional patterns of the availability of well-drained ridges and settlement density
between Northern Belize and the central Peten. Further, the pattern of occupation between Chiik
Nah and Tzunu'un mirrors the pattern of land use expansion and contraction noted for the Belize
River area in the surveys where the areas of clayey soil dominant in the marl based foothills were
last occupied in the late Preclassic and were the first abandoned in the Terminal Classic. It may
be the pattern of occupational preference is a cross-scale pattern. This will need to be tested.
The site of Chiik Nah is a single-structure residential unit is close to the center of the site,
as are the other units in its vicinity. While the other units are unexcavated, it is not known
whether they were contemporaneous to Chiik Nah, but given the BRASS survey data where 98%
of the residential units had Late Classic occupation, we can assume that most had some degree of
contemporaneity at least for that time period. Another possibility is that the other dispersed
nearby structures formed an informal functional unit with the Chiik Nah. More data from this
residential sector of El Pilar will help build a clearly picture of the residential activities around
the ancient Maya city.

A Hjeritage of Investments at _l Filar
El Pilar has accumulated major archaeological and park assets of great value to
archaeological understanding that benefit the local community, to the regional tourism industry,
and to the future development opportunities that are both sensitive to the needs of the local area
as well as to the worldwide concern of resource conservation. The research and development of
the BRASS/El Pilar Program has built a vital investigative base for the illumination of El Pilar's
place in the world of the ancient Maya while incorporating the needs and interests of the local
community. Combining the field surveys and excavations with the trail development and site
improvements have produced an unique destination for Belize and the Mundo Maya. The
involvement of the community in the process of research and development has linked the local
constituents to the annual explorations at the site and the cultural and natural resources of the
site. This is a new heritage for the community. Our experimental model that this program has
promoted over the past decade promises to bring the culture and nature of the Maya forest into a
new dimension as we collaborate to build sustainable alternatives for the future.

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Management at El Pilar

Appendix : Collaborative Organization

EI f'ilar Partners

El Pilar Team Organization:
El Pilar Program
~ UCSB Main Office: Anabel Ford Director ford@marc.ucsb.edu
1. Coordinate interdisciplinary research as well as activities, agendas and meetings for El Pilar
2. Assist in and manage team research, development, and coordination for El Pilar and the
Maya forest internationally.

~ Belize Advocate: Anselmo Castaieda Regional Environment ~ mbcbelize@btl.net
1. Presentation of the El Pilar conservation model in the context of the analyses of
Mesoamerican biological corridors.
2. Promotion of the El Pilar model among key government and NGO officials involved in
culture and nature.

SGuatemala Advocate: Jose Antonio Montes International Law ~ jamontes@guate.net
1. Regional and international analyses of legal and political structure for management of shared
cultural and natural resources.
2. Research and drafting of legal position papers for regional distribution and formal documents
for agreements.

Community Participation
~ Amigos de El Pilar: Lakin/Chikin (Belize/Guatemala)
1. Community based organization promoting local participation in the management and benefits
related to the conservation of resources at El Pilar.
2. Actively involved in expanding participation in conservation, especially the youth
3. Maintain cross-border community projects at El Pilar.

Community Accompaniment
NGO Program Partners: Community and Conservation Management
~ Help for Progress/Belize: Elias Awe, Rick August, Melanie Santiago ~ progress@btl.net
1. Asset building for rural community development in the Maya forest.
2. Social and environmental advocacy for community programs.
3. Linkage empowerment between rural communities and local government as well as local and
international NGOs

~ Canan K'aax/ Guatemala: Mario Mancilla, Ramon Zetina ~ simbiosis@itelgua.com
1. Resource conservation management and environmental research in coordination with
community participation.
2. Environmental research inventory, monitoring.
3. Management linkage for communities and resource conservation.

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Management at El Pilar

Appendix ]]: Timeline for ~ I ilar

El Pilar and the Maya World Life Returns to the Forestl

700o C Middle Pre-Classic Period
The first public monuments established at
LIl Pilar and earliest occupation of Tzunu'un
Maya house with the forest garden

250 BC- Late Pre-Classic Period
Plaza Copal completed around same time of
public monuments at Tikal
Major occupation in the I PFilar area
Development of Flaza Axcanan

20o AD Early Classic Period
Construction at Plaza Jobo
Tica! emerges as a major power

6oo AD Late Classic period
Major construction at Xikna F ramid
Hull occupation of PFilar

900 AD Terminal Classic Period
Continued construction at L] Filar

1000 AD arly Postclassic Period
Abandonment of E Pilar

1 20o AD Late Fostclassic Period
Occupation in the River Vallei

1 5 o AD ~ European Contact
Cortez crosses the Petmn

: i 972 EI filar recorded by the rept. of
Archaeology (Topseu & Falacio)
* 1 985 formal Archaeology visit to
EI Filar (Awe, Morris, hord)
** 198+ elize River Archeological
Settlement ,Surve9 map of the site
S: 199) RKA55/EI PFilar Program
begins excavations with Full time caretaker
S1 994 Master map ofthe site core
completed w/ Pilar Poiniente in KoM
: i 995 OFicial boundaries of Ll Filar
established in Belize
1 995 Model Maya house created at
Tzunu'un and 7 Pilar is listed in 100
Sites in Peril -World Monument Watch
.0 1996 Excavation and careful
consolidation at Jobo and Tzunu'un
40 1997 l filar certified as a Monumento
Cultural in Guatemala and family shrine
discovered at Tzunu'un
: 1 998 Tzunu'un is consolidated with
family shrine for visitors to enjoj
1. 1999 Outreach education developed as
part of KRA55/E_! Filar Program
* 2000z Tzunu'un Trail Guide
showcasing the forest Garden
2001 Design of r1 PFilar Trail Guide
** Z002 educational collaboration at
5HJC and Tourism Workshops

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Management at El Pilar

Appendix Ji]: Didactics for El Filar

Welcome to PIaza Copal


L .tPj

A model of what Plata Copal may
have looked like during the height
of El Pilar's power, around 800 AD.
You are by the yellow arrow, entering
from Plaza Duende.

Plazas, like Copal, are an integral part of sites throughout Mesoamerica. These open,
easily accessible plazas were important public areas, and served as ceremonial centers and
meeting places. Other more enclosed plazas, such as Axcanan to the south, represent
exclusive areas within centers of power. Plazas have often been cleared to provide a full view
of the monuments. But would the plaza be a comfortable meeting place for celebrants in the
heat of the midday sun? More information about the trees can be found at Axcanan.

The Ball court

'7 "L -' =. ,L' the bal court with reconstruction from Caracol

At Maya sites, distinct parallel mounds suggest the place where a ball court once stood.
The structures you see were not for spectators, but were part of the playing field.
We know the game involved bouncing a rubber ball off of these structures without using
hands or feet, but little is known about the system of scorekeeping. The games may have
been played for enjoyment, ceremonial purposes, or political reasons. One ceremony
involved re-enacting a scene from the Popol Vuh where the hero twins, Huanhpu and
Xbalanque, defeat the lords of the underworld. Legends also say that games were
sometimes played with captives who would be sacrificed after the game.

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

=ilar Foniente

Appro,';mately 800 meters to the west of Plaza
Copal is the plaza complex of Pilar Poniente
Ths western area of El Pilar lies in what is now .
Guatemrna a trPonnl
The two sides of El P lar were joined by a
causeway that runs almost due west of this
point as shown on the right.
The ca8Usoavav is from 1the surrLinong area and
was plastered over n much the same way as
mar y of the Plaza's were. The .auseay is still
visible and the trail leading west from here runs
a short way along its route,
Pilar Poniente is covered ir thick jungle and will
be developed in the future
ttestem Vew from PReza CAope

FIlaza Co pal

Plaza Copal was established in
a major phase of development
during the Late Pre-Classic per od
I2iO BC 250AD). This represents
an incredible focus o' work and
effo.1 derinstralrg powI r
and importance of El P lar as a
regional center,
The hollh repeatedly re-modeled over nearly
two rnlltennia and reached their final
appearance in 1he lale classic pe-cd
(600 900AD)
The western temple Nohoch-Aak is
seen on the left in an artist's
impression of h.w the temple may
look in the future after further

Aolsrea Mi"p0ain ca,. Noaw innwkwswk

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

lemples of the Maya

The majestic temples of the Maya still rule
Over the forest, a thousand years after
they were abandoned, Archaeological
research has focused on these ceremonial
centers, but where were the living places
of the Maya populace? At El Pilar, we
present both lhe power elite and the
domestic household

Maya temples were designed and built
Stthen redesigned and rebuilt, over and
over again in many phases of
construction, creating layers, much like
an onion, For example, Xikna was
remodeled over 1700 years. Temples are
grouped around plazas and usually face
the cardinal directions N, E, S. W.

D ons. m), ,K- S cftres

Mapy Forest Garden

lPF ti a P p lto fa, i caII ]t a tc aq 5 I-
* The Maya lived on this land for thousands of years, -
" pport ng a population Far greater than today's. -
SThe did this without the intensive cultivation of a '
sing crop and without plowing or c"earing the land.

The Mara Forest Garden at r Rilardemonstrates
ow the ancient Maga mak have worked the land
in the forest that is so r..pi.lll .'. rr..pr I..r. o .
We propane that the M.aya practiced a resiient and
high .r.ers lcutivation oftrees, shrubs, herbs
and grasses and tat their traditional cultural .
practices cultivated the Maa fore st
* tor further r information 3ou mai wish to read the I
Tzinu',un Fore-st-Gardrn TrailGdc, availbl at ,;
the Befukte Cultural Center .P

-OR .Q L T O L
aDAML U'l.aZMA YKAJ SnTLftlU 5 ARf.l ( I1l

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar


Ageton, C. (2000). Breaking new ground: Community development at El Pilar, Belize.

Atran, S. (1990). Cognitive Foundations of Natural History., Cambridge University Press.

Atran, S. (1993). "Itza Maya Tropical Agro-Forestry." Current Anthropology 34(5): 633-700.

Amigos de El Pilar Web Site (2002) www.interconnection.org

Awe, E. A. (2000). Regional Community Action and the El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for
Maya Flora and Fauna. Belmopan, Help for Progress.

Awe, E. A. (2001). Progress Report: Creating a Livelihood at the Nexus of Culture and Nature,
Help for Progress.

Balick, M. J. (1994). Ethnobotany, Drug Development, and Biodiversity Conservation-Exploring
the Linkages. Ethnobotany and the Search for New Drugs. D. S. C. a. J. Marsh, John
Wiley and Sons: 4-24.

Barrera Vasquez, A. (1995). Diccionario Maya. Mexico, D.F., Editorial Porrua.

Bray, F. (1994). "Agriculture for Developing Nations." Scientific American 271(1): 18-25.

Campbell, D. G. (1994). Scale and patterns of community structure in Amazonian forests. Large-
Scale Ecology and Conservation Biology. P. E. a. R. May. Oxford, Blackwell: 181-199.

Campbell, D. G. (1998). Signature of the Classic Maya on the Tropical Forests of Belize.
American Anthropological Association, Philadelphia.

Campbell, D. G., J. Walker, et al. (1995). The Signature of the Classic Maya Empire on Belizean
Tropical Forests. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Atlanta.

Deacon, R. T. (1999). "Deforestation and Ownership." Land Economics 75(3): 341-359.

El Pilar Web Site (2002) www.marc.uceb.edu

Ford, A., Ed. (1998). The Future of El Pilar: The Integrated Research & Development Plan for
the El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna, Belize-Guatemala. United
States Man and the Biosphere Program. Washington, D.C., Bureau of Oceans and
International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Ford, A. and J. A. Montes (1999). "Environment, Land Use, and Sustainability: Implementation
of the El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna, Belize-Guatemala."
Mesoamerica 37(June): 31-50.

BRASS/El Pilar Program

Management at El Pilar

Gomez-Pompa, A. and A. Kaus (1998). "Taming the wilderness myth; environmental policy and
education are currently based on Western beliefs about nature rather than on reality."
BioScience 42(4): 271-279.

G6mez-Pompa, A. a. K., A (1990). Traditional management of tropical forests in Mexico.
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