Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jeffrey Glover

Second Advisor

Terry Powis

Third Advisor

Zachary Hruby


This thesis presents the results of research conducted at the ancient Maya site of Pacbitun. The site, located in the foothills of the Maya Mountains in the Cayo District of Belize, offered a unique opportunity to investigate the relationship between the site core and various caves located in its 9 km2 periphery. The landscape was a critical component of ancient Maya religion. The earth and all of its topographic features were considered to be alive and, as living beings, to interact in human affairs. Caves were seen as portals to the underworld and homes to deities. Pilgrimages to these sacred places influenced and were influenced by settlement patterns and socio-political relations. Particularly targeted in this study is the causeway system, which connects the site core to a ritually used cave, and is analyzed through the application of predictive modeling. Since analysis of the intermediate area between sites and caves has been rare, this research makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the ritual landscape.


Included in

Anthropology Commons