Conclusions
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Conclusions

 

            The research findings of this dissertation are of two kinds — methodological and culture historical.

            The methodological technique of using a factor analysis of the sherds contained in excavation units was demonstrated to show the clustering of variables (sherd types) and cases (excavation units) in factors. The factors thus found were shown to have a temporal significance because the factors themselves stratified consistently within individual stratigraphically controlled test excavations. In addition, the factors were shown to have a functional significance in some cases. The association of Chen Mul Modeled censers with particular ceremonial structures at Muyil is one such example. The factor scores for individual excavation units not only place the units within a temporal sequence (when the scores are high), but also, when the case has low factor scores, confirm the mixed nature of the material in a given unit and raise cautionary flags about the further analytical use of that unit. The technique offers another objective analytical tool for extracting meaningful information from sherd data produced from test excavations.

            The most important culture historical findings are these. Muyil was settled at the end of the Middle Formative (ca. 400 B.C.), earlier than previously believed by about 300 years. Muyil contains the earliest known ceramics of the sites in the area, including Coba, Xelha, and Tancah. The early ceramics from Muyil indicate that settlement of the area probably began by sea, may well have come from the south (northern Belize), began along the coast, and later proceeded inland to sites such as Coba. The ceramics from Muyil suggest that (as has been demonstrated for Coba), the ceramic associations between Muyil and Belize persisted from earliest times until the beginning of the Late Classic, and were then broken in favor of ceramics from the Puuc region. The ceramics of Chichen Itza appear at Muyil in the Terminal Classic, they appear later than the onset of Puuc ceramics (Muna Slate), and they then run concurrently with Muna Slate. The ceramics of Chichen Itza occur in similar proportions at Coba, Muyil, and Xelha, but the latter site also has architectural elements of the Itzá, while the two other sites do not. This suggests that the canoe trade of Chichen Itza, well known at Cozumel and Isla Cerritos, was interrupting the coastal trade of Coba at some locations to the south but not at others. The ceramic evidence from Muyil of Peto Cream ware indicates that both Coba and Chichen Itza lost hold of their trade routes and ultimately their economic power at the end of the Classic. Chichen Itza could not have persisted as an economic trading power into the Postclassic as has previously been assumed or hypothesized. The development of the east coast sites during the Postclassic evolved through two major periods, the first marked by Peto Cream ware, the second more by Navula Unslipped ceramics and Chen Mul Modeled effigy censers.

            The tall Peten-style pyramids of Muyil likely date to the Early Postclassic, to judge from both the associated ceramics and a single radiocarbon date from a lintel of the Castillo. The western sacbes of Muyil would then date to this period, and the eastern segments would have been constructed somewhat later, probably to accommodate the eastward retreat of the shoreline of the Muyil lagoon. The Muyil canal, once considered man-made, is a natural watercourse. The arrival of the Spaniards, so clearly in evidence at Tulum and to the north, left no mark on Muyil, save the loss of its populace.

            These findings not only indicate that Muyil was a small but active participant in coastal activities throughout its occupation, but also provide important new insights into the relationship between Coba and Chichen Itza, and the timing of the coastal trading power of Chichen Itza.

 

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